Monday, April 13, 2015

Review: Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Description (from cover):

'From acclaimed author Lynn Cullen--whose The Creation of Eve was hailed as "intoxicating" by the Washington Post and "a swoon-worthy blend of mystery, romance, and history" by Atlanta Magazine--comes the captivating confession of Edgar Allen Poe's mistress...and the obsession of Poe's wife.

New York, 1845. Mr. Poe's The Raven is all the literary rage--the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream. As a mother trying to support her two children after her husband's betrayal, Frances jumps at the opportunity to meet the mysterious Poe, if only to help her career. Although not a fan of his writing, Frances is overwhelmed by his magnetic presence--and the surprising revelation that he admires her work. What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit love affair. But when Edgar's frail wife, Virginia--a cousin half his age--insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and deceiving, as full of twists and turns, as one of Poe's tales...and maybe, as Frances fears, every bit as deadly.

Closely based on Poe's life and writings, and rich with authentic historical detail, Mrs. Poe, is a novel of romantic obsession as passionate and enduring as its brilliant subject.'

My thoughts:

Edgar Allen Poe was one of our nation's most famous authors. He wrote those gothic and dark tales that are still popular today, such as The Raven, The Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. Poe is well known for his darkness and his intellect in all things mysterious. He created quite the sensation back in the 1840's when he was just starting out and quickly rose to fame because he was so different from the other writers on the scene at that time. I, of course, knew who Edgar Allen Poe was because what reader doesn't? I have read some of his works, most memorably The Tell Tale Heart which was spooky all in itself. But I really didn't know anything about the author who created such a literary storm in his lifetime.

This book takes place in New York City just at the beginning of Poe's career. It is told in the narrative of Frances Osgood, who was rumored to be Poe's mistress. It was interesting to see how Fanny saw Mr. Poe and his young wife, Virginia. Virginia had an immense need to be liked and appreciated by her husband. She was obsessed with making him happy and making herself the center of his attention. Mr. Poe was most definitely moody and distracted and quite tired of playing his wife's games. It is no small wonder that he found solace in the arms of Fanny Osgood. Fanny's husband was a cheating scoundrel who would abandon her and their children quite frequently to chase after charming heiresses. I found it interesting that someone so moody as Mr. Poe and someone so meek as Ms. Osgood could find romance in each other.

Lynn Cullen wrote a fantastic book about these two characters. Of course, everyone knows who Edgar Allen Poe was, but it was nice to learn something different about him and to learn about Frances Osgood, of whom I had no knowledge until I read this book. Their love story is quite chaotic and strained, but nevertheless, it was a well written tale based on historical fact. I simply couldn't put this one down. I was curious to see how things would turn out. I highly recommend this book to people who want to learn something a little different about one of America's most famous authors. This author did a fantastic job of opening my eyes to a more deeper and intense side of Poe that I never would have known.

Overall Rating: 4.5

Title:  Mrs. Poe
Author:  Lynn Cullen
Series:  N/A
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Publication Date:  April 1, 2014
Pages:  352
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Get It:  Amazon; Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Edelweiss, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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