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.
Length: 318 pages (Hardcover)
Source: Review Copy
Available Formats: Print/E-book/Audio
Publication Date: October 1st 2013 by Gallery Books
Those are the words that first come to mind when I think of how best to describe Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen and I mean it in the best of ways.
When I first picked it up I expected it to be a heavier read, that's not to say that heavier reads aren't enjoyable because they are but it is not often that I can ascribe lightness to historical fiction but I feel like with this one I an and not think that it takes away from the novel itself.
I knew very little about Poe, except the basics that I've gleamed from the little bio of him at the end of books of his poetry and I knew next to nothing about Frances Osgood so I was very drawn to this story and Frances' character most of all.
From page one I was drawn into the story and the way that Lynn decided to tell it and I loved France from the moment we were introduced to her. I just loved how she was. She left a life of privilege to be with a man she loved even though that relationship was rife with betrayal. She was writing when women were still thought to have naught but fluff and thoughts of embroidery in their heads and she was determined to have a better life for herself and her children than the one she was living at the time.
I liked that she was all about her children, when may people born into her station would have basically left the majority of the child rearing to servants, her meager earnings made it impossible so she was more hands on than I thought and I loved to see just how much her daughters meant to her. She had a strength and a kindness about her that I really enjoyed.
I also enjoyed Lynn Cullen's depiction of Poe. He was by all accounts a very stoic and dour man who had a sharp tongue and wasn't afraid to use it in his criticisms. I was a little put off by his attitude but I did come to like how he was portrayed in the story because despite his personality because he had times where all that melted away and you could see a more human side of him.
Most importantly though, I was impressed with how easy it was for me to get wrapped up in the story of Frances and Edgars affair. They were so drawn to each other that they were like to moths drawn to a flame and I enjoyed seeing things progress the way they did, especially when Poe's wife was thrown into the mix. She was a bit of a hellion in my opinion and while Virginia seemed immature I did like her character.
I thought that Mrs. Poe was a very well written novel, and I found that I really enjoyed that this book was one of those novels that was intensely focused on the characters and their relationships more than any real political element in the story which I found refreshing.
If I had one complaint about the novel though it would be that I wish certain parts had been fleshed out a little bit more, but other than that I thought it was a great read that was quick, refreshing and not too heavy in terms of content. I would absolutely recommend this one to everyone, not just those with an interest in Poe, or historical fiction but for those looking to try this genre out. Will I be reading more by Lynn Cullen in the future? Heck yeah! I've already got another of her novel's (the Creation of Eve) on hold at the library.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my free and honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are 100% my own.
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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.