Title: Mrs. Poe
Author: Lynn Cullen. She is the author of several novels for young readers, and historical novels about famous figures, including The Creation of Eve.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Readers: Blogger Stacey, stay at home mom Nan and bookkeeper Tykira.
Summary: 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…
Our Take: If you’re a lover of historical fiction, our readers agree that this one is for you. They found the book absorbing and transporting, with fascinating characters.
Mrs. Poe was a perfect example of the power of historical fiction to transport the reader into another time and place. As a fan of Edgar Allen Poe’s dark poetry and twisted tales, I was looking forward to this read long before it was sent to my Kindle. While the title suggests the novel is told from Mrs. Poe’s point of view, the author, Lynn Cullen, leads the reader through the eyes of Mr. Poe’s mistress, Frances Osgood. This is not the only subterfuge Cullen creates while weaving her tale. Under the guise of telling an historical story, Cullen writes her own “shivery” tale, worthy of Poe fans.
Cullen has written this incredible tale filled with characters so well-rounded, you’ll feel you know them personally. Her detailed descriptions of 1840’s New York are skillfully illustrated, as are her glimpses into Society and the strict rule of social etiquette of the day. As readers, we are treated to frequent name drops of prominent American authors who traveled in the same circles as Poe and Osgood. The author gives the reader a unique “fly on the wall” perspective in many of these scenes.
For lovers of historical fiction, especially those based on real people, this is a Do Not Miss title.
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I have been interested in Edgar Allan Poe since I discovered him in elementary school. I expected to enjoy Mrs. Poe, but I didn’t expect to be sucked into it so quickly! Lynn Cullen’s novel about Poe’s relationship with writer Frances Sargent Osgood is completely engrossing and will capture your attention from the get-go.
The novel is narrated by Frances Sargent Osgood, and it opens just after the publication of Poe’s most famous poem, “The Raven”. Although Osgood is not impressed with the poem, she and Poe are frequently thrown together socially as members of New York’s literati. She forms a bizarre friendship with Poe’s equally-bizarre wife, Virginia, and develops an attachment withPoe himself. I thought it was particularly interesting to see how Lynn Cullen was able to take Edgar Allan Poe — someone historically viewed as being troubled and macabre — and transform him into a romantic lead. The novel is rounded out with a cast of characters ranging from other prominent writers of the day to the creepy Mrs. Poe and her mother. While the tone of the novel is foreboding, it’s still light enough that you won’t be afraid to read it when you’re home alone.
Although Poe and Osgood did write each other a series of love poems, there is some debate among historians about whether or not the two actually had an affair. Mrs. Poe makes the affair seem completely plausible and skillfully blurs the line between fact and fiction, creating an engaging and exciting read whether or not you’re already a fan of Edgar Allan Poe.
I must say that I did enjoy reading this book. I entered into the “world” that the author was portraying very innocently. I have heard of Edgar Allan Poe and, of course, I had some knowledge of his famous poem, “The Raven.” However, I did not know much more about him, nor his wife, or his mistress, Frances Osgood. I think this allowed me the ability to be engulfed by the story / theory that the author had created about this time in their lives. I didn’t have “facts” sitting in my brain to conflict with what I was reading.
The author, Lynn Cullen, was able to write the story through the eyes of Frances Osgood in such a way that I found myself getting involved with the story and the characters. I could feel frustration that Frances felt with Reverend Griswold and his hatred/jealousy of Poe or with the dreadful nosey Mrs. Ellet causing unnecessary drama for all. I was also able to feel the elation that Frances felt when she had a brief moment to spend with her heart’s desire, Poe.
The story does have a slight dark side. Then again, I’m not sure if one could have a happy go lucky story involving Edgar Allan Poe. Don’t let this stop you. Enjoy the book!