Paperback: 352 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
READ AN EXCERPT.
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.
So What Did I Think About The Story?:
Before reading Mrs. Poe I knew Edgar Allan Poe for much of the same things most people know him for: his shockingly unsettling poetry and stories, his dark and somewhat worn-out looks and crabby personality, his mysterious death. Mrs. Poe completely turns those stereotypes on their head, giving incredible backstory and justification to the darkness inside Poe as well as showing the tender side he kept well hidden from others and the jealous people in his life who worked to try and turn Poe into the monster many later believed him to be. All of this incredible character development is set up against the vivid backdrop of an ever-changing New York City in the mid 1840s, a world and group of people caught between constant advancement and an unyielding desire for life to stay within the traditional rules of decorum.
One of the biggest surprises to me was how attractive so many women found Mr. Poe during this time. From the images I had previously seen he just looks unpleasant. In Mrs. Poe he is reserved, sardonic and dark but he is also talented, intelligent, open-minded and brooding in a way that made the women swoon! It wasn't hard to see how Frances Osgood - the wife of a charismatic, flippant and philandering ne'er-do-well husband who has to try and support herself after being abandoned - would fall for this deep and attentive man. They are both lovers of words who are lonely and sad and there ability to find some happiness and passion within each other was captivating. The fact that they did so while bucking up against every acceptable norm of the time, many of which were just ridiculous given the circumstances, made me cheer for them even more. They were a very touching couple and, while this is by no means a happily-ever-after sort of story, I couldn't get enough of watching them come together like magnets only to be torn apart again and again.
The secondary characters (if they can even be called that as so many of them are flamboyantly unique and unforgettable) were absolutely delightful! The talented yet eccentric group of individuals that came together to discuss their art and the world were a who's who of artistic, political and industrial history and I got a little thrill each time a new member was introduced so casually to the conversations. So many have become favorites of mine through other readings so it was exciting getting a little peek at what they might have been like behind closed doors with their contemporaries. Some characters seemed slightly over the top - such as the childish, vengeful and ever-ailing Mrs. Poe and the hateful, pompous Rufus Griswold - but they are made that much more fascinating because of it and, reading through the insightful author notes at the back of the book, it is quite possible they were that bold in reality. They are the kind of people that exemplify the belief that sometimes the facts can be more entertaining than any fiction!
Another enticing component of Mrs. Poe is the ever present sense of foreboding and the dark mystery running through this complicated romance. Accidents and strange coincidences keep happening, some of which have dangerous and frightening consequences, and the reader is left to try and figure out who is causing them. There is a little twist towards the end that I wouldn't dare give away, but suffice it to say nothing and no one is exactly as it seems. As Poe would say:
"Madness spreads like a drop of ink in water. Soon one does not know who is mad and who is not."
Mrs.Poe is everything that is wonderful about historical fiction. It has stellar characters, a setting that is so well developed it might as well be a character itself and a sense of mystery and discovery that keeps the reader unable to stop reading until the very end. I can't think of any components that this novel does not have and I am so impressed with Lynn Cullen's ability to leave me heartbroken and breathless now that I'm done reading. It's quite plainly a perfect story.
So What Do I Think About The Cover?:
I love it! It appears to show one of the daguerreotype photographs so popular during this time and fits in with a trip Mr. and Mrs. Poe and Francis Osgood took to get their pictures taken. The only thing that could make it better is if somehow her head would disappear when you turn the book (sort of like those 3D cards you can get that change the picture when you move it) which fits in with something that happens when Mrs. Osgood's picture is being taken. But even without I love it.
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
Make sure to come back on June 11th for a guest post by the author and the chance to win a copy of Mrs. Poe for your very own! You can also find more information about the book, the author and the tour below so be sure to read through to the end!
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
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Simon & Schuster
About the 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.
For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
Virtual Book Tour ScheduleMonday, May 19
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, May 20
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, May 21
Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, May 22
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Friday, May 23
Review at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, May 27
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, May 28
Review at Turning the Pages
Friday, May 30
Review at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Monday, June 2 Review at Let Them Read Books
Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise
Tuesday, June 3 Review at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, June 4 Review & Giveaway at Reading Lark
Thursday, June 5 Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Friday, June 6 Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Monday, June 9 Review at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, June 11 Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, June 12 Interview & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, June 13 Review at Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, June 16 Review at Unabridged Chick
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Tuesday, June 17 Review & Interview at Layered Pages
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, June 18 Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views