Not What I Expected | Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

by: Lynn Cullen
Published: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley


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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My Thoughts:

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.

My Recommendation:  

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:

AuthorLynn 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.

(Image via Goodreads; bio via Lynn Cullen)

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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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UP NEXT:  Friday Favorites offer up my favorite childhood series. What is yours?


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21 thoughts on “Not What I Expected | Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

  1. Leticia November 16, 2013 at 1:51 am Reply

    You will find Poe’s poems, tales, literary criticisms, essays, correspondence, and articles regarding him, here:


  2. Catherine October 23, 2013 at 8:14 am Reply

    Hi Sherry! I agree with your review- not enough Poe but I was so fascinated by the New York literati scene that ti still worked for me. And I do love things from the female perspective.

    p.s. sold our house and off to Seattle. happy/sad


    • Sherrey Meyer October 23, 2013 at 3:22 pm Reply

      Hello, Catherine! Nice of you to stop by with your comments. I too was intrigued by the NY literati scene, imagining myself in the midst of all those greats!

      I suppose congrats are in order on the sale of the house and move, but sad that are chances of meeting up are much smaller than they were before! Let’s keep in touch via our blogs, OK?


  3. RebeccaScaglione - Love at First Book October 20, 2013 at 5:20 pm Reply

    I need to read more Poe! I’m in the middle of reading an anthology of his that I have!


    • Sherrey Meyer October 20, 2013 at 9:18 pm Reply

      Hi, Rebecca! Loving the Share the Love Linky . . . lots of good stuff there. I too need to read more Poe. Haven’t read any since college, and I should brush up.


  4. Lynn Cullen October 19, 2013 at 8:42 am Reply

    Sherrey, thank you so much for your lovely, eloquent, and thoughtful review. I appreciate that you posted it on Amazon as well. Thank you so much for your support!


    • Sherrey Meyer October 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm Reply

      Lynn, thank you for dropping by and leaving such kinds words. I thoroughly enjoyed Mrs. Poe. I hope some day to write a work of historical fiction and have begun my research. I’m beginning to understand what goes into that effort. But, first, I must finish my memoir!


  5. tpolen October 16, 2013 at 10:35 am Reply

    I’ve heard good things about this book. Getting ready to read a YA book based on Poe.


    • Sherrey Meyer October 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm Reply

      Teri, look forward to reading your review of the YA book based on Poe. Will be interesting to compare the two.


  6. marianbeaman October 16, 2013 at 10:23 am Reply

    The photo on the cover reminds me of the glamorous photos of alluring Amish girls in novels of that sub-genre but with a less playful gaze.

    As always, Sherrey, your reviews entice the reader to explore the work. October – Poe – mystery – romance—seems like a good time to indulge in some historical fiction.


    • Sherrey Meyer October 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm Reply

      Marian, enjoyed your comparison of the cover with those of covers with Amish girls “with a less playful gaze.” It appears you have the right combination for reading Mrs. Poe: October, mystery, romance, and Poe. 🙂


  7. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader October 16, 2013 at 6:51 am Reply

    I wish that this had focused on Poe 😉 I liked it well enough, but there was something that didn’t work for me.


    • Sherrey Meyer October 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm Reply

      Jen, I’ve heard several comments mirroring yours. I was a reluctant reader when I started it, but quickly found myself wanting to know more and more and more!


  8. Patti Hall October 16, 2013 at 3:31 am Reply

    I loved Poe when I was younger, but have not read him in many years.
    This is a wonderful review! Your format is very professional, with image of book and author, as well as synopsis, review and author bio. I have to add this to my long long list of books to read.
    I love the whole feel of this place! It is soft and comfortable, yet professional.


    • Sherrey Meyer October 16, 2013 at 1:14 pm Reply

      Hi Patti, thanks for the comments and so glad you enjoyed your visit here.


  9. Jade Reyner October 16, 2013 at 1:34 am Reply

    I have to admit that Poe pretty much passed me by until recently, when I watched the TV series ‘The Following’ where the main character interprets Poe’s writing to an extremely detrimental and negative effect. Since then I have been looking at his works – some of which are undoubtedly dark and thus, I shall definitely have a look at and hopefully a read, of this book. Thank you for the review Sherrey. 🙂


    • Sherrey Meyer October 16, 2013 at 1:13 pm Reply

      Jade, if you decide to read Mrs. Poe, I hope you enjoy it!


      • Jade Reyner October 16, 2013 at 1:46 pm Reply

        I do want to read it, the only thing is that it isn’t on Kindle. Do you know if the author plans to release it on Kindle or not? Thanks.


        • Sherrey Meyer October 17, 2013 at 11:49 am Reply

          It’s on Kindle in the U.S. via Amazon. In fact, I read it on Kindle. 🙂


          • Jade Reyner October 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm Reply

            Strange, it didn’t show up in the Kindle library here. I’ll have to have another look. 🙂


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