Making a huge splash in the literary world last year, and now a National Bestseller, Lynn Cullen’s Mrs. Poe is now available in paperback for your collection or for all the first time readers who have been waiting patiently. Now is no time to waste, this book is definitely worth your money! I was so excited when this book first came out, as I am a huge Edgar Allan Poe fan since high school. I can feel the depth of his soul in his writing and I couldn’t wait to see what Lynn Cullen would bring to light with her novel. Which is where my review today comes in….
If you like the time period of the late 1800s and dabbling in stories of creative types of people known for art, writing, music, plus their drama and intrigue, then you’ll want to be fully swept away in Mrs. Poe very soon! It is a pretty consuming novel. That means, the story will consume you.
Mrs. Poe will certainly suck you in from the initial chapter, as we immediately feel connected and sympathetic for Mrs. Osgood, as well as a little proud of her writing accomplishments (well, I was proud, as a fellow female writer) in a time when women were fighting heavily for equal rights. I was quick stepping right in line with her pursuits as a strong, independent woman struggling to keep her social class and station during a horrid marriage, raising children, and getting her writing acknowledgements beyond writing for children. I think Cullen, as a children and young adult author herself, could probably relate to her desire, even in this more modern age.
I loved how our eyes are inquisitive as we begin this book, just like Mrs. Osgood to her surroundings and what is being read and published. When she alights upon the poem “The Raven,” which paved E.A. Poe quite some road to fame when it was published in The Mirror in New York City in 1845, she becomes insistent on writing similar work in order to gain readers. During this pursuit, her social circles allow for a meeting between her and the moody poet. Both are married, yet both seem to have troubled marriages.
Cullen explores the hypothesis in Mrs. Poe that Osgood and Poe begin a love affair. Her characterization of Poe makes him quite the leading man (and ladies man) of his time and we begin to see past the brooding, unsmiling, mysterious macabre writer of black and photos and into the possibility that Poe had a sensitive and alluring heart. It was quite stirring and I found myself barely able to put down the book or to stop flipping through the pages. I was enthralled in Cullen’s prose, her details, her sometimes rhythmic and rhyming phrases and her eloquent dialogue and character thoughts and movements.
It doesn’t get much better to me, if I read any romance at all, for an author to put together suspense, mystery, intrigue, dark, speculative, and forbidden love/lust, coupled with a history of art or writing. I especially enjoyed Cullen’s independent character of Mrs. Osgood and am always a fan of showcasing women in history who were feminists and forging new grounds and overcoming obstacles. It left me guessing, wondering, thinking, and feeling and provided quite an escape from the stresses of life by immersing me in an even more depressing and gut-wrenching story.
Not only did it remind me of the horrors of loss that people endured in the latter 19th Century in New York, but it gave great knowledge and enlightenment as to possible real events of Poe, his wife Virginia, Osgood, and all those surrounding them. In the end, Cullen’s story was so well-researched that I’ll come full-circle back to say that maybe this should be considered an option for a historical biography of his life and his love for two women and a daughter. Some might still disagree with me for various reasons, but Cullen certainly spent enough time putting pieces of the puzzle together that it’s at least viable. It’s realistic, yet highly entertaining and absorbing.
Was Poe really mad, did his childhood trauma, his consuming love, stress of his marriage all compile to make him crazy? Was his death unnatural? Was his name smeared after his death? These are common questions at Poe and they all surround the people associated with him as well. Cullen writes their story up to a point and ends it with what seems like hope. Yet, we know the demise of them all…maybe Cullen has finally given credence to their souls, their hearts, and kept their hope alive.
It certainly, no matter what, gives Frances Osgood back her rightful place in history. She was quite a poet and writer herself, becoming one of the most amazing female writers of the 19th century. I adore Cullen’s book for this, as though they enduring such hard lives and died too young, women like Osgood are indelibly remembered when a book like hers is published, becomes a bestseller, and is passed down through the years.
I absolutely loved this book. I highly recommend it readers and lovers of historical fiction that showcases artists, writers, creative people of the past. If you like eloquent novels that leave you wondering and breathless, then this one should be next on your list.
Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –Oprah.com
Editor’s Pick—The Historical Novels Review
Best Books of 2013—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick
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.
Praise for Mrs. Poe~
“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times
“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week
“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People
“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR
“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review
“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review
“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)
Buy the Book
Author Lynn Cullen, Biography~
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.
See all the reviews, interviews, articles and giveaways here:
Tour Schedule with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours~
Tour Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour