Author: Lynn Cullen
Publisher: Gallery Books
Type of book: America, New York, 1845-1847, famous people, writing, Edgar Allan Poe, marriages, infidelities, friendship, romance, relationships, passion, forbidden fruit, life in 1840s
Year it was published: 2014
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.
The main characters include Mrs. Poe, Edgar Allan Poe, Mrs. Clemm and Frances Osgood. Mrs. Poe is in her early twenties and is best described as both childish yet mature. She seems to lack certain social graces. She has married Edgar Allan Poe at the age of thirteen and is suffering from consumption. Edgar Allan Poe is her first cousin and is about thirteen years older than she. He is very scathing towards other writers, very brilliant and talented and has very high standards. He is also in denial about what is going on with Virginia and is very passionate towards writing and love. Mrs. Clemm is Virginia's mother and she seems to be supportive more of her daughter rather than her son-in-law/nephew. Frances Osgood is married to Samuel Osgood and is also a children's author as well as a poetess, although she writes more sentimental poetry rather than macabre. She has two daughters and her husband constantly cheats on her. She wants to make something of herself and tries her best to resist Edgar Allan Poe.
Truth is stranger than fiction
The book is written in first person narrative from Fanny's point of view, and is also chronological. While I enjoyed the time period, learning about Edgar Allan Poe's less well known stories, (makes me want to read those tales,) people that populated the 1840s New York and so forth, I often felt that the chemistry was a bit under-developed between Frances and Edgar. Also the plot twists were pretty surprising and its pretty important to pay attention to the stories that are mentioned Mrs. Poe.
(From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)
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
Besides a few story pieces and heartbreaking poetry as well as a glimpse of Edgar Allan Poe's life, I don't know too much about him or his personal life. To be fair, Edgar Allan Poe and his affair with Frances Osgood is a possibility affair rather than something concrete. I enjoyed the read and learning information about Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Poe and Frances Osgood, but I didn't really seem to sense chemistry between the characters, and somehow if the book was written from Frances's and Mr. Poe's points of view, rather than only Frances' point of view, I would have enjoyed the book a whole lot more. Something else that was enjoyable was seeing the famous names in the book and even watching how New York began to change during the late 1840s, and also learning about Edgar Allan Poe's less known stories.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)