A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe—at the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife.
It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman—especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven” has struck a public nerve.
She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married.
As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar’s passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it’s too late.
Set amidst the fascinating world of New York’s literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history’s most unforgettable literary figures.
(Cover image and synopsis via Goodreads)
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The words “not what I expected” must not cast any doubts on Lynn Cullen’s historical novel, Mrs. Poe. I suppose after reading Poe in secondary schools and then college I expected something quite different. The book, however, does not disappoint.
Expecting the focus to be on Mrs. Poe, I was somewhat surprised to find that the focus of this story is Frances Osgood who becomes Edgar Allen Poe’s paramour. With a writing style that draws the reader in with evocative descriptions of characters, places and times, Cullen also develops dialogue that allows the reader to see into each character.
The evolving personas of each character, each of whom seemed to be a bit mad at times, were intriguing. It was never clear that any one person trusted another completely, and yet their lives were becoming so intertwined as to almost be clearly dependent on one another for something not yet grasped.
The greater burden, however, falls to Frances Osgood and what impact this relationship will have on her daughters and herself should her estranged husband return. Although she befriends Mrs. Poe, Frances is not quite certain that Mrs. Poe isn’t the hand behind the strange circumstances occurring in her life.
I must stop here or give away too much.
I cannot say enough great things about Lynn Cullen’s writing and the incredible story she crafted in Mrs. Poe. If you’re a fan of Poe and his writing, the active and beautiful literati of the time, and a love story that weaves in and out of various lives, then Mrs. Poe is for you.
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Meet the Author:
Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote children’s books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats.
Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood.
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I received a copy of Mrs. Poe by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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