Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lynn Cullen's Mrs. Poe - Review and {Giveaway}

My thoughts
I have always been fascinated by Edgar Allan Poe. Besides being absolutely in love with his literary works, I've also considered him an enigmatic figure who is, and was, widely misunderstood by many people. It turns out that the author of Mrs. Poe felt the same, as evidenced by her wonderful depiction of the man in her book. I have also become intrigued by Frances Osgood, someone I knew very little of before reading this book. The depiction of Osgood in this book is beautiful. I felt like I was listening to the story of a friend. Perhaps I felt akin to her because I too am raising my children primarily alone and I am also a writer. But it's more than that. She is the classic representation of the insecurities that women face, especially women of her era when women were, in many minds, best suited for duties on the home front.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was the introduction of all the historical and literary figures to the story. Frances' visits to Anne Lynch's salon conversaziones introduce us to characters who are so interesting and lively...and menacing. Who could have stood their ground against the formidable Margaret Fuller? What a bear of a woman. Even Louisa Alcott made an appearance (love her), although sadly, we didn't hear much from her.

The subject of Mrs. Poe, Edgar's young wife, is a strange one. I did not know that he had married his cousin and that she was so young when they married. That's an intriguing story. I won't say too much so not to spoil the story. However, she was an odd character and I have to admit to getting mildly creeped out by her early on. For instance, she mimics the voice of Fanny Butler because she was not happy about her close interaction with her husband. Well, this gave me chills. Some excellent foreshadowing of what was to come.

Mrs. Poe is a terrific historical novel. The author presents a story of Poe that I believe has never been told and succeeds in giving us a picture of him that is much more refreshing than the rumors of the past. I admit that I have several of the author's books, but this is the first I've had a chance to read one of her novels. I'm very much looking forward to reading her previous works and her future offerings.

About the book
Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Gallery Books


Great Reads of 2013 –NPR
Books That Make Time Stand Still –
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.” –, 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
Amazon (Kindle)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble
Simon & Schuster

About the author
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.

For more information please visit Lynn Cullen’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #MrsPoeBlogTour

Stop by at Historical Fiction Connection and read my terrific interview with Lynn Cullen and the giveaway is still open over there too...two chances to win this fantastic book!

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Mrs. Poe! (Open to U.S. entries only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for providing it.


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  1. And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted - nevermore. From The Raven.

  2. I've enjoyed reconnecting with Poe these last few days while reading blog entries from the book tour. How about these lines:
    It was many and many a year ago,
    In a kingdom by the sea,
    That a maiden there lived whom you may know
    By the name of Annabel Lee
    Anxious to read this novel. Thanks for the giveaway

  3. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night."
    - from "Eleonora"
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. I am really interested in this book! It looks so good and I am a HUGE fan of Poe in general. I am pretty sure that I have read everything by him.

  5. "It was night, and the rain fell; and falling, it was rain, but, having fallen, it was blood."
    -from "Silence - A Fable"

  6. What is it that makes Poe so intreging? Looking forward to reading more about his life from another perspective.

  7. Great Review!

  8. Here's a quote from E. A. Poe:
    "All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream".
    I just saw the movie last year "The Raven" with Jon Cusack--I loved it :).
    I have read several of Poe's books/poems in the past, but none recently I must admit. I have had this book on my wishlist for over a year, so I would enjoy reading it. Thanks.

  9. Not entering, because I already have this book on my shelves, but your review is definitely moving it up on my tbr timetable! ;)

  10. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night. (Eleonora, 1841)

  11. There was nothing to wash out --no stain of any kind --no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all --ha! ha!

  12. "But we loved with a love that was more than love" from Anabel Lee (1849)

  13. Oh yes, the days of Edgar Allen Poe in high school English class...I'd love to read the story of his wife...

  14. Book looks perfect for me "never more"

  15. You know me and historical fiction, not my thing, but this one has my interest.

    "The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as best I could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge."

  16. I think you would like this one, Ryan. Good luck!

  17. Thank you for the wonderful review, Michelle! I really appreciate your kind words and your support of my book on your blog. I love that your readers have gotten into the spirit of Poe with quotes from his work. I'd like to offer the poem that he wrote to Frances Osgood, very publicly showing his love for her at Anne Charlotte Lynch's house party in February 1846. (I mention this poem in the book) Frances's name is hidden within the verses--instructions for finding it follow the poem.


    by Edgar Allan Poe

    For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
    Brightly expressive as the twins of Lœda,
    Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
    Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
    Search narrowly the lines!—they hold a treasure
    Divine—a talisman—an amulet
    That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure—
    The words—the syllables! Do not forget
    The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
    And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
    Which one might not undo without a sabre,
    If one could merely comprehend the plot.
    Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
    Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
    Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
    Of poets, by poets—as the name is a poet's, too.
    Its letters, although naturally lying
    Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—
    Still form a synonym for Truth.—Cease trying!
    You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

    [To translate the address, read the first letter of the first line in connection with the second letter of the second line, the third letter of the third line, the fourth of the fourth, and so on to the end. The name will thus appear.]

  18. You are more than welcome, Lynn! Thank you for stopping by and for leaving us this wonderful poem. I found her name! So fascinating. I'm planning on reading more about Frances. She really intrigues me. :)

  19. She fascinated me, too, Michelle. I would have liked to have known her. She was said to be so good at writing poems that she could compose one on her way to a magazine publisher and come out of his office with a dollar bill in her purse.

  20. I'll give you a stanza I find to be a key one in the poem that impacted me most, *The Raven*:

    `Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
    By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
    Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?'
    Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

    Man should have tried a Magic 8 Ball -- tend to be more tactful...Thanks for this opportunity --Kara

  21. But as in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of today, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.
    - from "Berenice"
    Rafflecopter: Carolsue

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