Tuesday, October 22, 2013
MRS. POE by Lynn Cullen
Like so many others, I am a long-time fan of Poe's work. However, I know next to nothing about his personal life. Edgar Allen Poe has been back in the public eye again thanks to tv shows like THE FOLLOWING. So, I was intrigued when I received a copy of MRS. POE by Lynn Cullen.
Poet and children's author Frances Sargent Osgood has been abandoned once again by her errant artist husband. She and her children manage to find sanctuary with her friends, the Bartletts. (of BARTLETT'S FAMILIAR QUOTATIONS fame) Osgood struggles to make a living with her poetry but all anyone wants to read are macabre stories and poems like the ones by new sensation Edgar Allen Poe. On a visit to a literary salon one evening, Osgood finally meets the great man in person. Along with his young wife, Virginia. After this initial meeting, Osgood continues to run into Poe and befriends Virginia who seems to be sickly and isolated. The more time that Osgood spends with the Poes, the more she finds herself drawing closer to Edgar. As their relationship deepens, Osgood starts to believe that not only does Virginia know what is going on but also they she may be trying to kill Frances.
Based on the true story of this infamous love triangle, Cullen gives us a glimpse into the private lives of Osgood and Mr. and Mrs. Poe and speculates on the nature of the relationships between the three people. A variety of famous people show up in the story such as Samuel Morse and Herman Melville which offers a bit of fan. Overall, however, the story is dark and tragic. I was so intrigued by this love triangle that I went and did a little more digging into their story. Once you know what really happened to everyone, the story becomes even more tragic.
I felt the story was a little slow at times and the threat of Virginia felt a little forced sometimes. However, the relationships were really intriguing and I liked the intimate look into the private life of Poe. It definitely got me interested in knowing more both about Poe and his wife and also about Osgood.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Although it can be a bit slow at times and the suspense seems a little contrived, I think readers will enjoy this look into Poe's private life as well as the recognizable cast of characters that fill the background.