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Mrs. Poe

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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.

318 pages, Hardcover

First published October 1, 2013

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Lynn Cullen

29 books482 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,879 reviews
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews524 followers
August 10, 2017

I walk these streets of New York City with Mrs. Frances Osgood ( 1811- 1850), an American poet and one of the most popular woman writers of her time, also famous for her exchange of romantic poems with Edgar Allan Poe. It is 1845 and Mrs. Osgood is en route to Miss Anne Charlotte Lynch’s conversazione, where none other than Mr. Poe, whose poem, ‘The Raven’, has reached fever pitch adulation here, is expected to attend.

Earlier when Mrs. Osgood was reading this poem out loud to her daughters, she shared her own thoughts:

“That’s it!” I dropped the magazine.
“What Mamma?” asked Vinnie
“This silly alliteration – it’s clinkering, clattering claptrap.”
Ellen’s face was as straight as a judge’s on court day. “You mean it’s terrible, trifling trash?”
I nodded. “Jumbling, jarring junk.”
Vinnie jumped up, trailing shawls like a mummy trails bandages. “No it’s piggly, wiggly poop!”
“Don’t be rude, Vinnie,” I said.
The girls glanced at each other.
I frowned. “It’s exasperating, excruciating excrement.”

She was completely unprepared then for her feelings, when having once met this author, whose work she ridiculed, she learns that he admires her own work.

I was still quite young when I first read and loved Edgar Allan Poe’s work. In fact I credit him, even today, with my love of poetry. Truly, he made me want to read more and so I did. Just as I now follow Frances Osgood and Edgar Poe through the streets of this incredible city, captured so breathlessly; it’s political climate and historic events, changing, evolving, shaping life and further defining this time and place. Cullen does not shine the light on Edgar here, after all this is titled ‘Mrs. Poe’, but allows him some shade in which to command this stage, as Frances tells us her story, and the air about me sizzles and snaps every time Mr. Edgar Poe steps onto and owns the page.

Eliza, in Mr. Bryant’s circle with her husband, saw Mr. Poe enter with Miss Lynch. She sought my gaze.

“I see nothing wrong with the Irish, Reverend Griswold,” I said. “They are good people, doing the best that they can in spite of their poverty. In fact, my girls spend much of their time with the Bartlett’s Irish maid and they do not speak ‘Hibernian trash.’ ”

I could feel Mr. Poe looking my way. I turned as does a flower to the sun. When our eyes met, I felt the heat of his intensity. Exhilaration poured through my veins like hot nectar.

I can feel my cheek flush as his gaze lands softly upon her from across the parlour, or later as I recall the touch of his hand upon her arm. Shaken to my core with heady anticipation, I read on; these pages simply saturated in gothic romance stain my fingers, leaving their tips thirsting for more.

Virginia, Mr. Poe’s wife and first cousin, whom he married when she was but thirteen and who clearly idolizes him, invites Frances Osgood to her home, and proceeds to pursue her friendship. Mrs. Poe is frail, childlike and unwell. She believes that Frances has a restraining effect on her husband’s vices; he has after all given up alcohol since having made her acquaintance. What possible good can come of this?

With it’s darkly, gothic poetic prose, twisted clandestine affairs and flirtatious literary delights, this sirens song is a warm blanket tossed softly over my savaged soul.

I have sat down several times now to write a review and each time I get caught up once again in this story. I swoon, and then I stall, unable to form a coherent thought. Fear perhaps, that my words could somehow diminish this work.

Still, I love the word quiver.

Can you see those five stars twinkling?

Hands down my favourite book of the year!
Profile Image for Historical Fiction.
920 reviews589 followers
September 16, 2022
Interested in getting behind the scenes of MRS. POE? Check out my interview with Lynn Cullen: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

Find this review, my favorite quote, and companion read recommendations at: https://historicalfictionreader.blogs...

Ah distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
that at the library I spied, a fictional tale of Poe's young bride.
Over the pages I did pour, but the book fast became a chore,
the text echoing verbatim lore, a novel that had come before.
After that I swore - no more!

In December 2011, I noticed Lenore Hart's THE RAVEN'S BRIDE on the new release shelves at my local library. Intrigued, I brought the book home with me and, while doing some background reading, realized the novel was the center of a literary controversy that claimed Hart's novel plagiarized Cothburn O'Neal's THE VERY YOUNG MRS. POE. Not being one to place absolute trust in the news, I tracked down O'Neal's work to see with my own eyes just how closely the books resembled one another. The similarity between the two texts found my jaw on the floor, but I was also dismayed to discover I had no genuine enthusiasm for the story as neither Hart nor O'Neal could make me believe Edgar and Virginia's marriage was a union of passion. The exercise of working through both books left me frustrated with both Hart and her publisher, but it also killed my interest in fiction related to the macabre poet.

As you might expect, my first impulse was to run from Lynn Cullen's MRS. POE. Warning bells chimed left and right, but curiosity got the better of me as reader interest in the novel grew. Having never been satisfied by Hart or O'Neal, I wondered if Cullen could succeed where her predecessors had failed. The thought niggled at my imagination until my defenses broke, causing me to track down a copy and pray history wouldn't repeat itself.

Though a ladies' man in life, popular culture paints Poe as an awkward loner. For this book to have any hope of success, Cullen needed to strip away this misconception and highlight the man beneath it, and it is a challenge she rose to and executed with flawless grace. Between these pages, Poe reads as an authentically attractive and believable romantic lead.

The emotional depth of this novel took my breath away. It's not easy to read the suffering of a bereft mother, the longings of a fatherless child, or the dangerous intrigues of a twisted mind and darkened heart, but I appreciated Cullen's handling of the material. Her depictions of jealousy, obsession, revenge, desire, and disloyalty humanized these characters in ways I'd not previously seen, and I liked how those ideas came through the text.

I also liked how Cullen used Poe and Osgood's public exchange of poetry. Historically, there is a lot of speculation as to how far things went between the two writers, and while I've no particular opinion on the subject, I thought Cullen's depiction of their relationship creative and engaging.

Spellbinding and seductive, MRS. POE is an impossibly addictive tale of tragic romance that refuses to let you go even after the final page.
Profile Image for Ann Sloan.
94 reviews20 followers
October 8, 2013
Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

I chose and was granted permission to read it by NetGalley. I was interested in it because of its title. I am and always have been a major Poe fan (I memorized Annabel Lee for my 9th grade English class – this was back when students had to memorize poetry – a practice that should be reinstated but won’t be since it’s not a skill on The Test).

What a mishmash of fact and fiction! Coincidentally, I just taught a class on American Lit from the Beginning until 1865, so these names were fresh in mind. And names there were in this book. It is the paradigm of “name-dropping.” Anyone who was anyone in the first half of the 19th century has his or her name mentioned, in passing or as a major character. Historical context is one thing, but this goes over that “red line.”

The whole premise of the novel – that Poe and Frances Sargent Locke Osgood had a physical love affair and that she bore him a child while both were married to other people – is difficult to credit. It is true that some writers have speculated that during this period Osgood had a love affair with Poe, but reliable evidence does not, at this time, exist to prove such a claim. Osgood met Poe in 1845, and they quickly became friends. She socialized with Poe at literary salons, visited him and his wife, Virginia, at their home, and published a number of poems in the Broadway Journal, of which he was editor. In the pages of the Journal they conducted an open literary flirtation, but, as critic Mary DeJong has said, “For Osgood, writing itself was a kind of performance, and she reveled in drama as much as Poe did.” Their flirtatious poems, DeJong speculates, “define their roles as patron and protégé, artist and admirer—not the quality or depth of their emotions” (The Heath Anthology of American Literature, 5th Ed., Paul Lauter, General Editor). Creativity and imagination are to be admired, but there has to be some historical basis for it in an historical fiction novel. The majority of this book is “will they or won’t they?” I won’t spoil the book for anyone who actually reads it, but the answer is right out of a Harlequin romance (or so I suppose, being too snobbish to ever have read one).

Contemporary accounts relate the devotion Poe and Virginia had to each other, although it has been suggested that Virginia and Poe had a relationship more like that between brother and sister than between husband and wife. Poe biographer Joseph Wood Krutch has suggested that Poe did not need women "in the way that normal men need them", but only as a source of inspiration and care, and that Poe was never interested in women sexually.

Poe had several relationships with women; they were an important part of his life and his writing. The first woman, his mother, set a pattern for the other relationships – abandoned by her husband, she died at the age of 24 of tuberculosis, when Poe was two years old. Poe wrote, Poe replied, “In speaking of my mother you have touched a string to which my heart fully responds. To have known her is to be the object of great interest in my eyes. I myself never knew her — and never knew the affection of a father. Both died . . . within a few weeks of each other. I have many occasional dealings with adversity — but the want of parental affection has been the heaviest of my trials”. (Ostrom, John Ward. The Letters of Edgar Allan Poe, 2 vols, New York: Gordian Press Inc., 1966, pages 78-79). Poe clearly expresses his need of female attention and love. It is a theme we see recurring not only in his life but also in many of his literary works. His many poems and short stories were a direct response to, and result of, the many women, and their complementary sorrows, that dominated his life.

It this picture and the impression I have from his writings that makes it difficult for me to see Poe as the sex magnet Cullen portrays him in this book.

As to Frances Osgood – during most of the book she is crushing on Eddie, fretting about what other people think of her, and dashing off the occasional sentimental verse that Poe publishes in his journal. In fact, Osgood was a much-admired popular poet. She thought of herself as a professional writer rather than as a literary artist and took full advantage of the many opportunities presented by a flourishing print culture. Her work and circumstances embody both the opportunities and the constraints of the contemporary literary marketplace. Osgood published in every venue available to her—books, magazines, pamphlets, anthologies, newspapers. Her poems, including beautiful and poignant expressions of maternal love and impassioned articulations of heterosexual love and enthrallment, were widely sought after by magazines such as Godey’s Lady’s Book and Sartain’s Union Magazine. A contemporary reviewer claimed Osgood was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s equal as a poet but far superior in “grace and tenderness.” This is not the character depicted in this book.

I have other nits to pick with this book. Several of the persons – who actually lived and had a part in Edgar Allan Poe’s life – have their personalities and actions distorted. Others are represented fairly closely to what we know from history.

For example, Margaret Fuller plays a major role in the plot. She is shown to be a petty, scandal-mongering gossip who affects Native American jewelry. She is more interested in other people’s personal lives than social works or the arts. This is the Margaret Fuller who was an American journalist, critic, and women’s rights advocate associated with the American transcendentalism movement. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism. Her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. Somehow, there is, as they say, a disconnect.

One character Cullen does get right is Rufus Griswold. His contemporaries considered him to be erratic, dogmatic, pretentious, and vindictive. He and Poe competed for the attention of poet Frances Sargent Osgood. They never reconciled their differences and, after Poe’s death, Griswold wrote an unsympathetic obituary. Claiming to be Poe's chosen literary executor, he began a campaign to harm Poe's reputation that lasted until his own death eight years later.

These were complex, creative people. You wouldn’t know it from this book. If you are interested in this period, historically and literarily, read biographies, literary criticism or, even better, their actual works. Just don’t waste your time on this book.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 25, 2020
Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen

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.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز یازدهم ماه آوریل سال 2017میلادی

عنوان: مادام پو؛ نویسنده: لین کالین؛ مترجم: ابراهیم علیزاده؛ ویراستار بابک حقایق؛ تهران، قاصدک صبا، 1395؛ در 468ص؛ شابک 9786005675238؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 21م

داستان کتاب فراتر از یک زندگی‌نامه یا یک داستان عاشقانه است؛ بسیار برایم دلنشین است. شاید برای این باشد که نویسنده شعر و داستان را نیک بهم آمیخته است. اثر با شعر «کلاغ» آغاز می‌شود، یعنی درست جایی که «آلن پو» به شهرت می‌رسد؛ و درست در همین زمان است، که با «فرانسیس اوسگود (فرانسیس اوسگود، زنی ست که شوهر هوسرانش او را ترک کرده؛ و ایشان با دو دختر کوچکش، در خانه ی یکی از دوستانش اقامت دارد، او می‌کوشد تا با چاپ اشعارش در نشریات، به زندگی خود و دخترانش سامان دهد)» آشنا می‌شود؛ در ادامه رابطه ی این دو رفته‌ رفته بیشتر می‌شود، اما شرایط حاکم بر زندگی آنها باعث می‌شود که نتوانند بیشتر به هم نزدیک شوند؛ بنابراین تصمیم می‌گیرند که از زبان شعر برای برقراری ارتباط کمک بگیرند، و حرف‌هاشان را با شعر بیان می‌کنند؛ در ادامه ی داستان رخدادهای جالب و جذابی برای این دو رخ می‌دهد تا داستان به دل خوانشگر بنشیند؛ مترجم کتاب جناب «ابراهیم علیزاده» در توضیح این رمان به ایبنا فرموده اند: هشتاد درصد متن کتاب زندگینامه «ادگار آلن پو» ست و بیست درصد باقیمانده نیز، حاصل ذوق و سلیقه ی نویسنده و روابط بین «پو» و «فرانسیس اوسگود» است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 03/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Undine.
46 reviews11 followers
August 28, 2013
Oh, dear God, the very last thing the world needs is another novel about Poe that completely trashes all the known facts about him and transforms the man into a slimy ladies' man, to boot.

Where do I begin? There was NO AFFAIR between Poe and Frances Osgood. There is not one genuine Poe scholar who takes the idea at all seriously. Their relationship was, at most, a platonic acquaintance that lasted only one year. Osgood and her husband were never estranged, and there is no evidence whatsoever that Samuel was ever unfaithful. The Osgoods, by all the known evidence, were completely devoted to each other, and it is as certain as can possibly be that he was the father of ALL her children.

Many women found Poe attractive and fascinating, but in a "fangirl" sort of way. To paint him as a man-about-town womanizer is just absurd. In fact, although Poe loved and revered "womanhood" in an idealistic sense, what we know about him strongly suggests he was asexual.

And what Cullen did to Virginia Poe! To paint this poor young woman as an antebellum version of Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" is beyond absurd--it is disgusting.

As an amateur Poe scholar and long-time admirer of his work, I knew I'd dislike this novel when I first heard about it, but I had to read it to appreciate its true horror. And, believe me, I deeply regret that I did. The bland, cliched writing and uneasy lurches between simplistic Harlequin romance-type fiction and ludicrous Gothic horror would be laughable if it wasn't so insulting to our intelligence. I had thought "Poe & Fanny" and "The Raven's Bride" were about as low as Poe fiction could sink. I should have known that eventually, another author would come along to prove me wrong.

In short: Well, no, I didn't think much of this book.
Profile Image for Jane.
Author 10 books821 followers
April 21, 2014
Where I got the book: e-ARC from NetGalley.

What was fact and what was fiction? That was the question in my mind after I finished Mrs. Poe. It tells the tale of Frances (Fanny) Osgood, who is pretty much unknown today but was a hugely popular writer in the mid-1800s, writing poetry and children's books mostly, I think. I had to stop and look her up in Wikipedia about halfway through, because I needed to know more or less where the line between reality and fiction fell, which is the trouble with novelized lives. Anyway, Frances may or may not have had an affair with Edgar Allan Poe during the final years of his wife's short life. They certainly did publish an exchange of flirtatious poems in the review of which Poe was an editor, and lots of people saw fire where there was smoke, and her husband wasn't around much...

But who, seriously, can ever know the truth of such a matter? The biographical novelist inserts herself into the gap between knowledge and possibility, and the reader needs to understand this and take everything that's written with a fairly large pinch of salt. I enjoyed the possibilities: the childlike/childish wife, the female writer skimming along the edge of destitution who discovers that being linked in scandal with a famous author is the way to sudden success, the tortured Poe-t whose work is dark for a reason - all quite reasonable projections of what might have been.

I enjoyed Cullen's writing (except that she mentioned Poe's dark-lashed eyes 1,000,000 times), and loved the more realistic parts of the novel, particularly the gatherings of New York literati and the depiction of a city still emerging from the agricultural age, building itself around the characters as they interact. I did NOT like it nearly as much when strange things started happening to Frances--I felt as if the writer (or her editor), realizing that not a whole lot was actually happening in the novel 'cept a whole lot of yearning, decided to stick in some action. But I LIKED the yearning. I'm kind of a sucker for the slow build of passion under the tight-laced veneer of Victorian propriety, and would have been quite happy to have had just THAT story. That's the beauty of literary fiction--you don't have to have a whole lot of action for it to be good.

So a bit of a mixed bag, but I suspect this might be a novel worth a re-visit, and that's pretty rare these days. It also made me more interested in Poe - I hadn't realized he was considered a SEXY BEAST by the aforementioned tight-laced ladies, and find the idea intriguing.

Well, tastes have changed.
Profile Image for Erika Robuck.
Author 11 books1,067 followers
September 24, 2013
Having lived just outside of Baltimore my entire life and being a fan of Poe’s macabre and romantic tales, I was thrilled to receive an early copy of MRS. POE for possible endorsement. From the first page, I was spellbound by the dark and captivating story of the famous writer, his sickly wife, and his troubled mistress.

Frances Osgood is the best kind of heroine: sympathetic, flawed, industrious, and conflicted. Her husband dallies with other women, leaving her to support their young children while desperately trying to preserve her reputation in society. Frances does not plan or wish to fall in love with E. A. Poe, but the spark of their shared creative processes as writers and the frightening attention of Poe’s child-bride are magnetic forces they can not control.

Like a story from the master himself, MRS. POE has suspicious characters, dark settings, and startling twists. By honoring Poe’s memory through style and theme, MRS. POE represents the best in historical fiction, and would no doubt be a novel in which Poe himself would approve.

If you enjoy gothic tales of fascination, creativity, and suspense, you will love MRS. POE.
Profile Image for Sara.
Author 1 book483 followers
May 29, 2016
This is a well-written, fun historical novel that casts a completely different light on the life and personality of Edgar Allan Poe. My entire scope of knowledge going in was that Poe did, in fact, have an on-going friendship with Frances Osgood and that there were rumors of something much more. Lynn Cullen takes that information and develops it into the love affair that might have been.

Along the way, she introduces us to other well-known celebrities of the time and has them rub elbows in New York, in much the way that they must actually have done. Of course, in the end, we are left with the enigmatic, mysterious Poe whose life and death defy historians' definitions. No one can ever really get us beyond that. His works alone make his mind seem more a labyrinth than an open book.

The book is fiction, the relationship is conjecture, the writing is skillful and the history is factually correct ...and that is all I need to make a fun historical fiction read. On a personal note, this was a gift from my granddaughter, who proved that she knows a little about what Grandma will enjoy. Thanks, Nicole.
Profile Image for Connie G.
1,690 reviews451 followers
October 2, 2016
Lynn Cullen introduces us to the literati of New York City in 1845 in her novel "Mrs Poe". The poet Frances Osgood is a young mother raising two children while her philandering husband is off in another city. She meets Edgar Allan Poe in a literary salon. It's the start of a love triangle involving Frances, Poe, and his wife Virginia who is ill with consumption. When Frances and Poe write flirtatious love poems to each other in a literary journal under assumed names, rumors start about their relationship.

Poe had a miserable childhood where he felt abandoned and unloved. The struggles in his life influenced the darkness of his writing. When he was 26, he married his 13 year old cousin who retained her childlike qualities into adulthood. The book includes several of his poems, as well as a few written by Frances Osgood.

The author said in an interview, "It wasn't my intention to write a biography about Poe or Frances Osgood, fictionalized or otherwise. My aim was to take these two personalities as I came to understand them, put them together, and see what sparks flew." Well, there were plenty of sparks flying between Frances and Poe in this engaging story--some factual and some probably speculation.
Profile Image for Laura.
822 reviews243 followers
April 30, 2014
I really, really liked this book. It was very well written and keeps you interested from beginning to end. Once you get to chapter four it moves quickly and you become fully vested in the novel. This is how a historical fiction about factual characters should read. It was an emotional read not just fact after fact. After reading this novel it makes me want to revisit some of the actual tales written by Edgar Allan Poe. Very well done Lynn Cullen. Very good character development!!!
Profile Image for Lynn Cullen.
25 reviews22 followers
September 30, 2020
Yep, I shamelessly rated my own book. Does it count that at times when I was writing it, it felt like Frances and Poe were doing all the work? I was just along for the ride. I must thank the pair of them.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Orsolya.
609 reviews287 followers
October 27, 2013
Much like his work, Edgar Allen Poe has a mysterious and dark aura. This can also be said of his personal life which includes his women and marriages. Lynne Cullen pursues this romantic angle in “Mrs. Poe”.

To clear any misunderstandings, “Mrs. Poe” is not directly a novel of Poe’s wife (although Virginia Poe is indeed a character). Rather, it follows Frances “Fanny” Osgood, a fellow poet who becomes involved with Poe and also befriends Virginia. Cullen’s topic focus intrigues but sadly, her writing does not.

“Mrs. Poe” is bland and thin, immediately introducing far too many characters with each lacking in any development. The reader never truly “feels” Fanny, which can also be said about the story itself as it is one-dimensional and is missing any depth. Cullen’s writing is descriptive and illustrative; but she merely expresses the settings versus the plot, leaving an empty story. The novel also has too much dialogue, adding to the absence of truly understanding Fanny’s innermost thoughts/feelings. When a glimpse is finally revealed, they feel juvenile. In fact, the novel as a whole is more suited for a YA audience than for adults.

As aforementioned, Cullen includes too many characters such as Poe’s literary circle but unfortunately, this doesn’t feel natural and is more in the essence of name-dropping. On the other hand, the actual character of Poe is compelling carrying the mystery of his personality which the reader yearns to solve. The novel does pick up the pace approximately halfway through with some dramatic moments, but the name-dropping continues which really has no impact whatsoever on the story and is simply annoying. Also frustrating is Fanny’s constant complaints of her husband’s affairs, yet, it is okay for her to pursue Poe…

“Mrs. Poe” is quite repetitive without gripping events or an arching plot. Even as the novel progresses, the story continues to be shallow although there is one surprising twist. Other than that, even the climactic portions are silly and juvenile at best. To make it worse, these events are overly foreshadowed and much too predictable.

The conclusion of “Mrs. Poe” is unbelievable and tries “too hard” to be twisted and dark… but fails. Like the rest of the novel, it is thin, abrupt, and certainly not memorable. Cullen claims in her ‘Author’s Note’ to have focused on the historical merit of events but the fluffiness of “Mrs. Poe” did not reflect this.

The only success of the novel was to show Poe in an alternate personified view than the usual dark and edgy character. In “Mrs. Poe”, Poe is mysterious but likable and even gentle. Sadly though, even fluffy HF novels tend to arouse my investigation of at least one character but “Mrs. Poe” failed to do even that.

Overall, “Mrs. Poe” is an interesting topic but the execution fails. It is fluffy, too smooth in texture, and reads like a YA novel. Perhaps I don’t click with the author (this was my third novel of Cullen’s I have read); as I prefer heavier HF (more history than fiction). On the bright side, “Mrs. Poe” is a quick, 1-2 day read. The novel is only suggested for a silly, quick filler read. I think actual Poe fans would find it elementary and insulting. “Mrs. Poe” can be skipped.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,734 reviews14.1k followers
October 17, 2013
I have always been intrigued by Poe, his tortured genius, his dark character, the fact that while he was the toast of the town he was always broke and died destitute. Just never seemed fair.

So this book recounts a big time in his life, The raven has been published and he is terribly in fashion, all hostesses want him for their soiree's and though many hate him for his cutting remarks, he is still someone everyone wants to know. This book is easy to read, but so many of the ideas presented I had trouble believing. For some reason I never felt these characters in depth, but the events and conversations featuring Poe were definitely this author's strength. I did get a more than a surface feel of Poe but he was the only one. I had a hard time buying many of this author's assertions.

My favorite parts where when poetry was discussed, the poems related and it is here that I found the dialogue most stimulating. This was a quick and easy read, just expected a bit more.
Profile Image for Crystal Craig.
250 reviews575 followers
November 8, 2021
"Pay attention to fate, Mrs. Osgood. It will always have the last word."

I didn't know what to expect from this book. My knowledge of Edgar Allan Poe is limited. I've always been curious about his work—I think that's what likely drew me to this book.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel. There was enough going on to hold my interest. The writing was decent, and the book appeared well researched—on top of that, I learned all about Poe.

My rating of 3 stars is based purely on my level of enjoyment. It's a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Gary.
327 reviews197 followers
October 30, 2013
I was very anxious to read this one before Halloween ,and I made it. The author is a historian, who wrote this as a historical fiction novel.It works! I really enjoyed it a lot. She tells that all the events in this story are true according to research she painstakingly did on the subject. I was a bit shocked by the ending, of finding out some things I didn't know.

The story in this novel is well written,and I enjoyed the interaction between the characters in the story. I was ready for it to get past the suspense of what was really going to happen between Poe and Frances..... which the author gave a lot of bang for your buck at the end, spending a lot of time leading up to it.....That is my only complaint, is the lead in seemed a bit long. Then boom, it all fell into place.

I hope this book sells well. I saw a bunch of copies available at Costco , when I was there this past weekend. I hope it's off the shelves once I get to go back again. Here's hoping.

If you have interest in Poe,and his life with his wife Virgnia, you will certainly get a lot of info about that. The man had it rough all around it seems. But I truly believe it's what made his stories and poems great, the grit in his life made his stories what they are.
If that all interests you, I highly recommend this book.

I will be reading THE RAVEN aloud this Halloween, as I always do.

Profile Image for Elizabeth Drake.
429 reviews90 followers
September 14, 2013
I quit 70 pages in. I could not, for the life of me, find anything the least bit interesting about the main character. She is whiney and self absorbed, complaining about her situation and waiting for a man to swoop in and save her.

I became more and more frustrated by her constant struggle with her writing. Clearly, she had seen success in children's stories but was trying to write something more prolific that would pay more. I am not one to bash artistic endeavors, but perhaps in attempting to put a roof over the heads of your children you might deem to lower yourself to write something THAT ACTUALLY SELLS! She spends countless pages moaning about her monetary situation but decides to spend her time attending frivolous parties and walking the streets of New York rather than actually writing anything.

I was also bored and appalled at the characterization of Poe and his wife. They were simplistic characters with little color and nothing to hold one's interest.

With a plot that crawls and characters that make my skin do likewise - I quit.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 9 books273 followers
August 3, 2013
MRS POE is such compelling novel, bringing history to vivid life. Danger, sensuality, mystery and passion fill the pages of this bewitching story set in the crowded cobbled streets, alleyways, cheap boardinghouses and literary gatherings of mid-nineteenth century New York City. Everyone warns the lovely, near penniless poet Mrs. Osgood, a deserted wife with two young children, to stay away from the dark-eyed writer Edgar Allen Poe who has fallen in love with her. She writes tender verses; he creates blood-curdling tales but he is darker than his writing, carrying secrets of his frail much younger wife and his heinous past. Even when Mrs. Osgood understands that someone is trying to kill her because of him, she cannot put aside her passion until it is almost too late.

A real page turner from one of our most skillful novelists!
Profile Image for Donna.
92 reviews
May 8, 2014
"Pay attention to fate, Mrs. Osgood. It will always have the last word"

Fact or not...I absolutely loved this novel about the affair between Frances Osgood and Edgar Allen Poe.
It was beautifully written with a historical detail that enthralled me. Mystery, passion, compelling characters and heartbreak make this dark tale addictive.
"If I had known that our night together would be our only one, I would have not let you go that morning. I would have shanghied you on Astor's boat to China, or whisked you off to a castle in Scotland -taken you to a place where you could be mine forever more." "Now I must content myself with the memory of the only night I had truely lived"
You will fall in love with Poe in this novel only to have your heart ache for him in the end.
Profile Image for Colleen .
382 reviews187 followers
October 19, 2020
Really liked this book with the insight it gave into the times. I was impressed with the New York literati and social conventions. I wish we knew more, but seams the author did do the characters justice. It really makes me wonder about these people and their lives. Some of it which is not so happy. I would like to read more works by all the writers mentioned in this story.

I received this book for free in a GoodReads giveaway by Simon & Schuster - no influence on review.

Our soul is as much a part of us as our hands and our voice, yet we are terrified to acknowledge it. Why is that?
Profile Image for C.W..
Author 17 books2,303 followers
November 29, 2014
Edgar Allan Poe has become a fascinating and controversial figure in the many years since his death. His morbid, often gruesome stories and poems evoke a tormented visionary, whose own historical repute has been tarnished by rumors of alcoholism, madness, and a bizarre marriage to his thirteen-year old cousin. Mr Poe is certainly ripe fodder for novelization, as attested by the quantity of fiction featuring him, yet MRS. POE rises above the fray with its sensitive, tragic, and often creepy depiction of the pivotal years following Poe's new-found fame with the publication of his signature poem, "The Raven."

Told in the voice of Frances Osgood, a struggling poet, abandoned wife and devoted mother of two small children in mid-19th century New York, we are quickly and expertly swept into the salons and petty squabbles of the literati. Forsaken by her errant husband and residing with friends, Frances must make a living through her writing - no mean feat for a woman at this time - and is advised by an unctuous editor to mimic Poe's extravagant, successful poem. However, an encounter at a salon with Poe himself and his young, boastful, yet clearly ill wife plunges Frances into a whirlpool of deception and passion, as her growing attraction to Poe, and his to her, seeps into her existence and wreaks havoc on her life. Her unwilling friendship with the conniving, fame-obsessed Virginia Poe in particular adopts sinister overtones as Frances tries to resist her attraction to Poe while becoming fearful of Mrs. Poe's ultimate motivations.

To explain more would ruin the many surprises and twists that this masterful novel offers. In choosing to frame her story through Frances, Ms Cullen ups the suspense, as we only know as much as Frances does, whose paranoia grows as her relationship with Poe deepens. Frances is both a sympathetic yet flawed heroine - a woman of her era, whose reduced circumstances make her vulnerable to the seemingly predatory Poes. Frances Osgood has few choices open to her, and Cullen is at her very best when showing us the hypocrisies, vicious gossip, and societal condemnations of New York's gilded society. The city, too, becomes a character in of itself - burgeoning like a stone beast, consuming the island it sits upon, and a fitting metaphor for Frances's obsession with Poe. Details such as the transport of the millionaire Astor, swathed in the furs of the animals whose slaughter have made his wealth, add to the overall ambiance of depredation pervading this world. However, it is the characterization of Poe himself that overwhelms us, surely one of the most well-researched of any fictional account on him. Here, he is not the insane alcoholic of legend, but rather a handsome man for whom acclaim is unwelcome, tortured by the deprivations of his youth and his stupendous talent, given to wry humor and cutting insight, even as he's slowly consumed by his dark, unusual marriage with Virginia. He commands center-stage whenever he appears, his very elusiveness imbuing the pages with mystery and entrancing us as much as he does everyone around him. We cannot help but fall in love with him, even as we sense his capacity to destroy those he holds most dear.

A nefarious subplot undermines the novel's strengths, but this is a very minor quibble in what is otherwise one of the most accomplished novels I have read this year. From her setting to her characters, to her keen insight into the corrosive influence of success and the sacrifices that haunt every writer, Lynn Cullen has found her own writer's soul in MRS POE.
Profile Image for Stefani.
329 reviews96 followers
August 12, 2013
This book was an interesting read for me but not entirely what I expected. I expected to find a forbidden love story complicated by a manipulative and conniving wife. What I got was a whole lot of social repartee of the wealthy and elite of early 1900′s New York with a kind of love story and suspicions about the wife that weren’t very well proven with facts. That disappointed me but the story was still ultimately entertaining.

Frances was the main character, despite the title suggesting that Mrs. Poe plays the main role. I felt a lot of sympathy for Frances. Her husband has left her and their children destitute to philander his way across the country, forcing her to try and sell her poetry and live with a family friend. Her first connection to Edgar Poe is round about, she is told that her flowery love poems are not in style since Mr. Poe’s Raven poem but that if she manages to write something more “shivery” to come back and they’ll buy it. After that she begins something of an obsession to be his better until she meets him at a social gathering and….well, I’m not sure exactly when or why she fell in love with him but she does at some point.

Here’s my main problem with the love story in this, it is almost non-existent until the very end of the book. There were a few flirtations here and there and suddenly they’re proclaiming how much they love each other and can’t live without one another. It was strange and I didn’t completely buy into it.

I also didn’t buy into the fact that Mrs. Poe was as manipulative and conniving as Frances would have had me believe. Again, for most of the book NOTHING shady happened at all. As far as I could see Mrs. Poe was only rightly betrayed and jealous that she was so ill and some other woman is making a move on her husband. I have a feeling I’d be a little cold and pissed off too! I just couldn’t ascribe these negative intentions to her no matter how hard I tried.

The ending was interesting and not what I expected but ultimately was something of a let down too. I was hoping that either there would be dire consequences for their actions or their lives would somehow be better for having had their elicit romance. But there were no consequences at all and still their lives sucked about the same as they had before. I tried really hard to love this book because I liked the main character and it was well written and put together. But by the end I was apathetic about it, which disappointed me.

This and other reviews at Stefani's World of Words
Profile Image for AmberBug com*.
462 reviews106 followers
August 14, 2015
ShelfNotes Review

Dear Reader,

I absolutely loved everything about this book, starting with the literary references right down to the forbidden romance. Cullen took all the pieces, fact and rumors, about Edgar Allen Poe and the characters around him and wrote a beautiful story that delves into feminism, technological progress, NYC literary society, and so much more. Right away Cullen gives us the setting perfectly, telling us of the NYC smells as horse manure, garbage and urine. This gives us a picture of what NYC was, pushing us into the past. I love when historical fiction adds quaint and factual details such as this.
The characters, based on real life, are strong, opinionated and made me want to jump into a time machine to attend one of their conversaziones. Frances Osgood, the struggling poet that has chosen the wrong man to marry and struggles with this throughout the book. Samuel Osgood, the husband of Frances, who is the master charmer portrait artist, one we would call a player in our time. Virginia Poe, the wife of Edgar Poe, sick and fragile but has a dark side. Edgar Allen Poe, the famous poet/writer, creepy yet extremely intelligent and charming (in his own way). Cullen wrote Edgar with finesse, he comes across with dry humor which he even admits, "I do not joke... I never joke". That spoke to me because I'm a believer that the truth is what makes something so funny. As Dane Cook (I believe it was him) says, "It's funny because it's so true". Poe's personality is so dark with macabre retorts that had me enamored, I think I fell in love with him right along with Frances.
One of my other favorite characters was Mrs. Fuller, even if she was only a minor part. She loves stirring the pot, has definitive views on feminism and is fantastic at defending her fellow females. Feminism plays a large part in this book, the idea of "free love" is brought up a few times and the conversations that play out around that theme are really interesting. One of the central ideas to "free love" is how "marital relations without the consent of the wife amount to rape." How complicated things were back then, suffocating in a marriage that wasn't right. The inequality of it all, something that is really hard to fathom in present times. The Author actually uses the doomed love of Edgar and Frances to show the injustice of the way things used to be. Shouldn't we be able to be with the one you love? Even now, with such changes in marriage, we suffer with the ideas of adultery and bad relationships. Should you stay with someone out of loyalty even if it means we'd be miserable? Doesn't that just make the person we're with suffer just as much if not more? A great quote from the book sums this up beautifully, "Why must women always deny their desires? Why must most men always deny theirs? It is completely unnatural to do so."
This book might seem like a romance, but to me it was so much more. I'd normally run for the hills at the first mushy paragraph... However, this book spoke to my geeky side. Mrs. Poe is chock full of technological progress, like having a fun history lesson; how roads started, NYC indoor plumbing bringing the rats, daggeotypes, the first x-mas trees, etc. I really loved the argument brought up around daggeotypes (develops a portrait by exposing chemicals to light.. Ahem, photography anyone?) this brought up the argument of Fine Art vs. Photography, which interested me quite a bit, being an artist myself. Samuel Osgood, the artist, believed that daggeotypes were a fad that would pass with time. Poe, on the other hand, felt it was a fantastic technology that was truest to the subject. How I would have likes to be a part of these discussions. I really would recommend this book to anyone who loves literature combined with history. Cullen gives us so many literary figures (mentioned or cameo); Walt Whitman, Mr. Audobon, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, even Charles Dickens. It left me star struck and wanting more. I can't wait to pick up another of her books, it left me wanting more.
Happy Reading,
P.S. - Check out Arianna's review of this book... Lynn Cullen commented on her post commending her for understanding where she was coming from, you have to read it!
Profile Image for Heather Fineisen.
1,156 reviews112 followers
March 10, 2014
I wouldn't classify this as a romance, but gothic borderline mystery sort of romance and someone's not quite right . Definitely builds suspense and is an imaginative speculation of Poe and his cousin/wife. I liked the history of women writers for the time period and the treatment of double standards for married women and men. Cullen' s fictional account made me want to learn more about the enigmatic Poe and break out a volume of his work. Bibliophiles, Poe fans, and those who enjoy a creepy bit of melodramatic historical mystery should be entertained.

Provided by the publisher.
Profile Image for Jessica Schad Manuel.
59 reviews63 followers
September 26, 2015
The best part of this book was imagining so many 19th Century authors mingling at weekly salons. Herman Melville bores the crowd with his long-winded conversation, Nathaniel Hawthorne is somewhat unknown for having written, "The Scarlett-whatever." The historical and literary context made it a fun read. The story itself felt a little weak at times, but still worth it. Edgar Allan Poe was believable as a character, mostly.
349 reviews56 followers
January 17, 2018
Fascinating historical fiction account of Poe having a child with another woman and who tries to kill that woman through out the book. A must read for us Poe aficionados.
Profile Image for Caroline.
342 reviews58 followers
December 20, 2013
I was really looking forward to Mrs. Poe, as I think that the plot is a very interesting idea. It's due to this idea and some decent writing--though the quality does range--that I'm not lowering it to a one-star book. I liked it about as much as a one-star book; but hey, the cover's pretty, right?

Edgar Allan's Poe life is quite controversial. He was, on the one hand, a genius. On the other hand he was an alcoholic who married his thirteen year old cousin. When Jerry Lee Lewis did it, down went his career. Apparently, people don't much like to think about the idea that Poe was drawn to physically childlike women, so his marriage is often dismissed by biographers as platonic. These same people apparently really don't like the idea of Poe having sex (again, I suspect his weird thing for childish-looking women has to do with that) so they claim his flirtation with Frances Osgood was simply that: a flirtation.

I don't have much of an opinion on Poe's sex life, save to say that he strikes me as an odd guy. He's always seemed borderline asexual when I read about him, though I doubt that this was the case. Could he have been impotent, as some people say? Maybe, particularly if his alcoholism affected his ability to get it up, but that seems like, again, a pretty convenient excuse.

So maybe I wasn't the right audience for Mrs. Poe. I understand that as the principle love interest of our heroine, he has to be made over a little. The readers need to understand why Fanny would fall for him, as she does in this book. But frankly, I didn't recognize this man as Poe. He does a lot of passionate groaning (not that there's a lot of sex in this novel; that would have been too interesting) and says things like "Woman." and is apparently handsome? Maybe he was considered handsome by the day, but to be frank, Poe's image is more popularized than most historical figures', and that ruins it for me. He could have been appealing without being an entirely different person, and I don't think Cullen understood that.

Much of the book reads as a cheap romance novel. I don't have an issue with that--unless real people are involved. They deserved better. Some of the dialogue is absolutely atrocious. Fanny talks about how she must possess him it kills her, and if that's supposed to turn this into the psychosexual thriller it was marketed as... it doesn't. The purification of Fanny Osgood, frankly, disturbed me. She and Poe are these classic sort of lovers who talk about Shakespeare and she's unfairly criticized and she just wants to be a good single mom and blah blah blah. Poe, too, is completely whitewashed. There's references to his substance abuse issues but it never delves into how bad they were. (And they were bad. Really bad. Like, gross bad, which is why, I suspect, Cullen glossed over them.) Everyone who dares badmouth either one of them is cast as a villain.

The person who got the worst treatment was without a doubt Virginia Clemm Poe, who is painted in her last years as a petulant child-woman. At the best, she's someone to be pitied by the "womanly" Fanny. At worst, she's a psychotic child bride who tries to murder Fanny. She's the villain. But wait--who was the adult male who married Virginia? Oh, right. Poe. Who is cheating on his wife of over a decade as she is literally dying? Poe. Who is shamelessly pursuing a married man--again--while his wife is dying? Fanny. Who are the real dicks here? Poe and Fanny.

But no. It's Virginia who whines and doesn't understand ~art~ like Fanny does, Virginia who was, at thirteen, sooooo much more mature than the twenty-six year old Poe. (So, it's implied, she should have known better when she married him.) It's true that the real Virginia encouraged Poe and Fanny's attachment, whatever it was. When I read the book's summary, I suspected something much deeper. A sort menage-a-trois, if you will, in which Fanny and Virginia's and Poe and Virginia's relationships are as important as Poe and Fanny's. Nope. It's the shallowest possible interpretation of the situation, with Fanny vs. Virginia for Poe's heart, Fanny as the grown woman with Virginia as the creepy child. Sexism at its finest, folks.

There are so many bad things about this book. Fanny, in true heroine-insert fashion (even as a real person!) inspiring some of Poe's poetry that she didn't actually inspire. (She did inspire some. But Cullen's less interested in that than the fake stuff.) Virginia fucking with Fanny's picture in true crazy wife fashion. (How can Poe function with his dying childlike wife he's screwing around on!!! Poor Poe, poor Fanny!) Fanny waking from her Poe bangfest to all the sore spots where he tore her bod up. Because when I think Edgar Allan Poe, I think of Fanny Osgood walking funny the next morning.

It's not that I'm against an exaggerated love story based on rumor. It's not that I have an issue with historical inaccuracy. It's that Cullen took it too far, and she took it in the worst direction: the typical heroine vs. villainess love triangle. And that, I can't abide by.

Maybe I'll take that extra star off later. I don't know.

Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
March 27, 2014
Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen is a 2013 Gallery Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Everyone is aware of the tragic story of Virginia Poe who died at twenty-four of consumption. (TB) In our minds we feel nothing but complete sadness at the loss of life at such a young age. Most of us are also aware of Edgar Allen Poe's life story which was drenched in death and sorrow. Rumors did surface that "Eddie" was having an affair with the children's author and poet Frances Osgood. There is much debate today among historians as to whether or not there was really an affair. Chances are it was as Frances tried to explain- a publicity stunt, more or less. If the two were having an affair it would seem odd that Poe's ailing wife would strike up a friendship with the very woman her husband was infactuated with. Again ,over the years this has sparked much debate.
Frances was married herself, but her artist husband was seldom at home. He was a notorious philanderer and pretty much abandoned Frances and their two daughters. Frances was given hospitality by a married couple who let her live in their home with her children.
Poe and Virginia lived with Poe's aunt and Virginia's mother in moderate financial circumstances. Poe never achieved any great wealth and in the last years of his life he was quite poor. It is said he always treated his wife kindly and gave in to her readily.
This book paints a very different version of events that opposes what we would like to believe. Poe is painted as a man who runs from the reality of his wife's illness, lies to his alleged lover about the seriousness of Virginia' health, and quite bluntly tells Frances he has grown weary of Virginia. He leads Frances to believe he only married Virginia because he was young and lonely and it was merely conveinent at the time. Virginia , a girl still, despite the fact she has been married for ten years and is in her twenties, has always been a figure of great sympathy. The way Edgar mourned her after her death would hint at his having strong emotional ties to her, but this novel paints Virginia as a possible villian. A girl well aware that her husband has begun a rather public flirtation with Frances and is more jealous than people were lead to believe. In fact, little Virginia, who is weak, sickly, and frail couldn't possible be responsible for some of the things Frances has begun to suspect her of... or could she?
Frances is ridden with guilt over the affair. She doesn't love her husband, but for the sake of her daughters she keeps up appearances, or at least tries to. So, the only guilt she has over her feelings for Eddie , is for his wife. In this version of events, Virginia may appear obtuse and socially awkward, but in fact she is quite cunning. Dangerous, in fact. But, is Virginia really responsible for these events or is it Frances's guilty conscience? Is Edgar right- have they all gone mad?
No matter how you portray Virginia, it still seems that she adored Eddie. If indeed he was having an affair, and if Virginia did rise to the occasion and attempt to put an end to it, I still couldn't help but feel badly for her. I could also imagine Edgar finding a woman that had the same interest as himself and being a little more worldly appealing to his intelligence and being human, he may have had an attraction to Frances. But, then again, he may have only wished to help her career along. Frances could have had a little crush on Poe, after all she didn't have a love match with her husband and by all accounts Poe was fond of her. Either way, it is not beyond the realm of possiblities that the two found comfort from each other. No one really knows for sure and that is why these novels are so interesting. I liked the idea the author gave us that Virginia may have been less naive that people thought, that she had a backbone, and that she may have been as dark as her husband. This is what makes historical fiction so fun. Sometimes we were left with a bare amount of real fact about certain things and this gives us the chance to speculate on how things might have been. The author actually paints a believable and plausible story, especially when we finally get to the end of the book and see that all the participants were indeed a little mad. You know that the story is not going to end well. After Virginia's death, there were still many more tragedies. Poe, Frances and a child that could have been Eddie's all died quite young and in the prime of their lives. I was engrossed from start to finish. If you like historical fiction, this book will certainly give you plenty to speculate about. This would be a great Book Club read as well.
Over all this one is a 4.5 star rating - A
Profile Image for Danielle.
396 reviews65 followers
September 13, 2013
Read This Review & More Like It At Ageless Pages Reviews

Opening with several of Poe’s poems, To F--, To F——s S. O——d, and A Valentine, Lynn Cullen certainly makes a case that Edgar Allen Poe and Frances Osgood indeed had a romantic affair in the summer of 1845. Unfortunately, what I don’t think the author makes a case for is why.

Frances Osgood is a writer of some success, particularly with children’s stories and poems about flowers. Unfortunately, none of that seems to be selling at the beginning of 1845, as New York City is overtaken by Raven-fever. Her publisher advises her to spook up her image, become a “Mrs. Poe”, if she wants to make any money. Abandoned by her horndog husband, she reluctantly agrees, though she thinks the Raven is crap and isn’t really shy about saying so.

That is, until she meets the author and proceeds to lose her scruples along with her livelihood, reputation, common sense, and personality as she trails after Poe like a puppy. Likewise, Poe’s distinctive bite is mostly missing from the story. Together they brood, then declare undying love, and then brood some more. Then write poorly disguised love poems. Then brood. I’m told the couple share a deep, intellectual connection, but it’s never on display. Frances loves the cardboard, Poe-shaped, cutout because he flattered her once.

The love triangle ends up a love sextagon as Frances’ husband, Samuel; noted Poe-rival, Rufus Griswold; and Elizabeth Ellet all throw their hats in the ring. Although, again, why any of them want Frances and Edgar is beyond me. It’s kind of like the line in the Josie and the Pussycat’s movie, “I’m here because I was in the comic book.” They want them because their real counterparts did.

If Poe and Frances have too little personality, Virginia has an overabundance. I described her as a manic pixie arsonist. Early on, Sissy flits about, pushing dour old Eddie to try exciting new experiences like touring PT Barnum’s American Museum and visiting a young Mathew Brady for daguerreotyping. Even as her illness worsens, she still tries to be the fun, exciting kid Eddie knew in his youth, reminiscing on the times she defaced property or ruined Eddie’s personal relationships. So wacky.

(An aside, this book name drops like you wouldn’t believe. If a famous person lived in 1845, they’re not only mentioned, they’re probably visiting New York and will stop our couple at an inopportune moment! The most egregious is a scene in which Frances is walking with Griswold, who waves away a young man with the words, “Not now, Hawthorne! I’ll read your draft of The Scarlet-whatever soon.” Really? I was shocked out of the story with laughter at how forced that reference is.)

When Virginia isn’t making inappropriate comments or acting like a child, she’s at the center of the gothic “mystery”. You see, Frances is the victim of a few “accidents”. She falls off a boat and is almost run over by a carriage, Her children are almost exploded by a malfunctioning gas lamp. Sissy happens to be at each of the scenes. Coincidence, or (duh duh duh!) MURDER?!

Well MURDER, but with a twist! That relies on the main character being a complete idiot, going into an abandoned church alone, running from her twue wuv, and almost falling off a clock tower. As you do. I didn’t find it tense or interesting, and in a book that claims to be about real people, kind of...libelous? I know it’s fiction and everyone involved is 150 years dead, but it’s supposed to be based on true events and it rubs me the wrong way to detour into The Pit and the Pendulum. Especially since there can be no justice, since we know none of the Poe family did life in prison for killing a famous poet.

The book doesn’t know what it wants to be, so it ends up not being anything. It’s not sexy or scary or an interesting portrait of the Literati. I had the same issue with the last Poe book I read. May be his life just doesn’t lend itself to novelization.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,327 reviews435 followers
Shelved as 'couldnt-finish'
August 31, 2016
What the hell, me? You just barely finished The Paris Wife and got all fed up with it and then you move straight on to this? Really? What were you thinking?

Ok, to be fair, I had forgotten I'd put this book on hold at the library. It just happened to become available for my reading pleasure two days after I finished with the Hemingways. This was not an intentional reading of one biographical fiction after another.

I don't remember putting this on hold nor do I know why I did but when I got the book, I figured it couldn't be too bad. Whereas I've never liked Hemingway, I've always liked Poe. I have a thing for the mentally unstable, which is obvious if you just look at the bulk of my relationships throughout my life thus far. I think I know maybe two "normal" (as in, not deranged) people? I'm not one of them. So I'd like this book, too, right?

I couldn't finish it. I got eight chapters in and was fed up with the lack of luster shown in Frances. Wasn't she supposed to have been a flirty, delightful, coquettish charmer? Wasn't she essentially the adopted daughter of high society and a shining star in literary circles? Not with this personality, she wouldn't have been. Mostly, the Mrs. Frances Locke Osgood character in this book was vapid, useless, and boring up through the first eight chapters.
And Poe. Oh, poor Poe. I'd never heard him described as handsome prior to this book but I had heard him described as magnetic when not being an asshole. I didn't really see that coming across here.

You know what? It was like reading Edward and Bella all over again but set in a different time period in a different place and instead of Jacob, we have the consumptive Mrs. Virginia Poe, who, in this story, seemed a bit tetched, herself. Ed-gar/ward was handsome all the time, pretty much to the point of sparkling and he didn't have much of importance to say on the pages. Frances/Bella just repeated everything anyone else said and had very few strong opinions of her own, other than she had to get to know Mr. Poe and had to figure out a way to write just like he does.

Whereas this all may have changed later in the book and maybe the story became absolutely riveting, I just couldn't make myself continue...I gave up and turned the book back in. DoneOver.
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Author 13 books980 followers
March 28, 2016
Immersed in beautiful and often dark descriptions, MRS.POE kept me enthralled to the final page. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my preconceived notions of Edgar fall away as his true passionate nature came to light. What's more, Frances Osgood was a heroine worth rooting for--I, at once, felt sympathy for her. Throw in a few plot twists and I couldn't put it down!
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