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Twain's End

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,254 ratings  ·  325 reviews
From the bestselling and highly acclaimed author of Mrs. Poe comes a fictionalized imagining of the personal life of America’s most iconic writer: Mark Twain.

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferociou
...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by Gallery Books
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,254 ratings  ·  325 reviews


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Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
I enjoyed reading this -- vey much.

Mark Twain, rather Samuel Clemens, was an exceptional talented writer. Yet as a man --
as a personality --he didn't seem all that interesting ---and that's 'interesting'!

The story about Isabel Lyons - his secretary for most of Twain's final years, was most intriguing.
Anybody who has experience being part of a family for many years - but is really not
family...knows there is always a difference.
Twain allegedly began to suspect Isabel using her position
...more
Debbie
Twain lovers, cover your ears! Because I’m thinking that on the asshole meter, Mark Twain is right up there. I’m pissed that my image of Mark Twain is forever tainted. It’s not that I knew much about the guy. I never read his work, but I had a fond image of him muttering witty sayings and writing wholesome boy adventure stories. After reading this book, I think he’s a total scumbag.

This is one problem I have with historical fiction. If the novel is about a famous person, there is no convincing
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Rebecca
“Twain’s End” was a possible name for the Clemens house in Connecticut, but it’s also a tip of the hat to Howards End and an indication of the main character’s impending death. In January 1909, when this terrific novel opens, Samuel Clemens, 74, is busy dictating his autobiography and waiting for Halley’s Comet, the heavenly body that accompanied his birth, to see him back out. His secretary, Isabel Lyon, is 45 and it’s no secret that the two of them are involved. A visit from Helen Keller, interpr ...more
Esil
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I'm clearly mostly an outlier on Twain's End. For me, there wasn't much I enjoyed about reading this book, despite a story description that sounded interesting. Cullen writes a fictional account of Samuel Clemens -- aka Mark Twain's-- relationship with his secretary Isabel Lyon. Clemens is in his 70s and Lyon in her 40s. Clemens is portrayed as egocentric, controlling, irascible and fickle. While Lyon sees his flaws, she is still star struck and lovesick throughout most of the book, almost like ...more
Aditi
“A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

----Mark Twain

Lynn Cullen, an American best-selling author, pens an interesting historical fiction about Mark Twain and his life around his secretary, Isabel V. Lyon, in her new book, Twain's End that narrates that journey of Twain's life when he ranted negatively about his secretary and her husband in front of the whole world, thereby shedding light to a love affair between Helen Keller and Ann Sull
...more
Jennifer
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“You tell me if this is lucky or not: since my forties, I haven’t been able to utter a single work without it enriching my pocketbook, and the gold rush is only getting worse. You’ve seen the reporters scrambling over the nuggets I drool. I can’t observe the weather without them sifting it for ore. Yet it’s this same cursed mine that spills the words that do my killing. Words! I kill the people I love with words,” Samuel Clemens, Twain’s End.

I spent many of my childhood years in Missouri, with
...more
☮Karen
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Much of this story is based on facts found in the real Isabel Lyons' diary.  And if a diary can be considered factual, if that particular diary  can be considered at all true, then what an a-hole Sam Clemens could be and what a little snot his daughter Clara was.  Sam hires Isabel to be his infirm wife's secretary  and instead keeps her for himself.  Soon he gives her a small house on his property and then a room of her own adjoining his bedroom.  Well, isn't  that  special?  Of course  Isabel f ...more
Paul Pessolano
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
“Twain’s End” by Lynn Cullen, published by Gallery Books.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – October 13, 2015.

If you haven’t read “Mrs. Poe” by the same author, you will after reading “Twain’s End”. This is a unique fictionalized account of a tumultuous time in the life of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. The author did an extensive search into the diaries, letters, and writing of the main characters.

Although one would surmise that the story revolv
...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
My review of Twain's End is now up on Fresh Fiction!

"Reading this book opened my eyes to the man behind the pseudonym Mark Twain"

Read the whole review here!
Stephanie
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
TWAIN'S END is the utterly fascinating and heartbreaking story of the aging, egocentric literary lion Mark Twain and his intelligent, beautiful devoted secretary Isabel who loved and understood him. She was the impoverished daughter of a bankrupt father forced to make her way in life alone; he was a man risen from tragedy and poverty who was idolized by every person in America. And while she had all the love in the world to give him, he could not allow himself to truly love anyone.

The portrait
...more
Julie
Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen is a 2016 Gallery Books publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher as an XOXpert, the official street team of XOXO After Dark.


Before beginning this novel, I took the time to do a quick internet search on Isabel Lyon and her relationship with Sam Clemens, aka, Mark Twain.

Well, the story is certainly a curious one. The few facts we have indicate Isabel was very close to Sam Clemens as his personal secretary, many believing she kn
...more
Martha Kelly
Jun 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Huffington Post calls Lynn Cullen "the Bronte of our Age," for good reason. Her writing is lovely and her research impeccable. This story that shows how Mark Twain may not have been the sterling figure many think he was is so interesting and brings justice to his former assistant. More good news: it just came out in paperback. :)
Marjorie
Sep 22, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss, netgalley
I know I'm in the minority with this book and most reviewers are praising it highly. I can't find it in my heart to offer it any praise at all. In fact, I found it to be quite offensive. I certainly don't believe in putting famous people on a pedestal or imagine in any regard that they aren't human with all of mankind's failings. But this book, at least to me, reduced the last years of Samuel Clemens's life to a Harlequin romance


I thought the premise of the book sounded so inte
...more
AmberBug com*
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bea2015
www.shelfnotes.com review
Dear Reader,

Lucky me! I got to read an advanced copy of this (via netgalley & BEA) from a well liked Author (Hi Lynn!) and a topic close to home. Samuel Clemens has so much history in Connecticut and anyone who lives here has been subjected to many Mark Twain themed educational romps. You can't grow up in Connecticut without some knowledge of who he was and what he wrote. I'm curious if people who haven't grown up around here have the same basic knowledge of him... it would be interesting
...more
Erin
Jul 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Lynn Cullen’s Mrs. Poe was one of my favorite reads of 2013. To quote myself, I found it ‘an impossibly addictive tale of tragic romance’ and still recommend it to readers on a regular basis which is why it should come as no surprise that I jumped when Cullen herself asked if I’d like to review Twain’s End. I was flattered and while Mark Twain has never been a particular favorite of mine, the idea sparked a certain curiosity and I accepted her offer.

Look
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

I don't know if it's this particular book, or the fact that I simply don't read much historical fiction to begin with, but I found Lynn Cullen's Twain's End a hard bird to wrap my mind around, in terms of deciding what exactly I thought about it. On the one hand, it's a very faithful and informati
...more
Margaret
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Masterful and engaging. Through the diary of Isabel Lyon, and numerous other sources, Ms. Cullen weaves an historical, but fictional account of Samuel Clemens, and his seven year association with Isabel.

Isabel, formerly a society debutante, is forced into service as a governess after the untimely death of her father. Eventually, she becomes the secretary to Olivia Clemens, the invalid wife of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. In time, it becomes clear that the notorious aut
...more
Bob Schnell
Advanced Reading Copy review Due to be published October 13, 2015

Biographical fiction is a hard sell for me. Why not just read an (auto)biography of the person? However, in the case of Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain it makes a bit more sense, especially in light of his recently published 3 part autobiography. The author of "Twain's End", Lynn Cullen takes the stance that the 100 year old book is really a biography of Mark Twain and that the biography of Samuel Clemens would be quite a bit
...more
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Jan 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Many thanks to the Goodreads First Reads program for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Foremost, I enjoyed the fascinating historical nugget that inspired the author to tackle this novel: a relationship between Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) and his secretary, Isabel Lyon, that led to a terrible falling out at the end of Clemens’s life [No spoilers here – the book jacket copy says as much].

Like the author, who needed to understand why? and how? this ultimate u
...more
Mij Woodward
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Titillating, scandalous, gossipy, sensational. So of course I loved it.

I learned all the juicy details of the private lives of Samuel Clemens and his daughter, Clara. Plus petty rivalries between Clara, Katy (devoted maid), and Isabel Lyons (secretary).

So of course could not put this book down.

The world of gossip is such a fun place to be.

Also, I resonated to the parts that reminded me of narcissists I have known, when Samuel would display such behavior
...more
Debbie
Sep 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was definitely an interesting read. I definitely did not know that he had written that many books. And, of course, I definitely did not know that he had a thing with his secretary. He could seem like such a nice man and then all of a sudden just go off. Apparently it wasn't just an old age thing as his daughters didn't like him either.

It's interesting to note that the world's best loved man hated by anyone who knew the real man.

I liked the way this book was written a
...more
Karen Torghele
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reading Lynn Cullen’s Twain’s End surprised, delighted, and educated me on one of the most charismatic and enigmatic people of the last century, Samuel Clemens, A.K.A. Mark Twain. Having read all of Cullen’s books so far, this is my new favorite. Her skill as a writer, who clearly does extensive research to portray accurate pictures of each character and setting, shines in this picture of Twain, which is compellingly shown, not fed to the reader. And Cullen does not shy away from including uncom ...more
Kalen
Sep 08, 2015 rated it liked it
*** 1/2

A fun read, especially if you like the recent trend in historical fiction based on famous writers such as Z or The Paris Wife. Cullen appears to be an astute researcher and (while I enjoyed the book very much) my favorite part was actually her note at the end about the research process. Twain's End may be a tough pill to swallow for those who are hard-core Twain fans or those who believe that Isabel Lyon stole from him, hence her firing. I have never been a huge Twain fan (I mean, he's f
...more
Janet
A story of a smart woman who, by a combination of circumstance and love, finds herself inexorably tied to the most famous man in America. Having heard the author speak, I know this historical fiction piece was meticulously researched, and that makes the story all the more fascinating.
Sarah
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Where I'm from, Samuel Clemens – aka Mark Twain – is a greatly admired local figure. I grew up in central Connecticut, five miles from the flamboyant, multi-gabled Mark Twain House in Hartford, and visited there often on school trips. When I interned at a local planetarium in high school, at the time of Halley’s Comet’s return in 1986, we had a Twain interpreter introduce and close the weekly shows. (Clemens had been born with the comet’s arrival in 1835 and died after its subsequent visit in 19 ...more
Kimberly
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
No other author or writer that I have come across can realistically capture 1907 Manhattan in the way that Lynn Cullen does. From Mrs. Poe to Twain's End, she beautifully with beguiling humor brings Samuel Clemens or as America knows him Mark Twain to life in her soon to be released novel, 'Twain's End.'

I was lucky enough to receive a review copy from the publishing company and I knew I was in for one hell of a ride!
You see Mark Twain is a slice of true 'Americana' but this New Yorker, never r
...more
Anna Patterson
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
BOOK REVIEW:

Posted by Anna Patterson. Writer, Journalist, Book Reviewer

TWAIN’S END – Literature/ Fiction Adult by Lynn Cullen.
Publishing Date is October 13, 2015, published by Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, and Gallery Books. 308 pages.

I am a blogger and reviewer. I was privileged to read this book as a professional reviewer on Net Galley. I received a copy to read through the Net galley program in exchange for an honest and unbiased review which I am happy to s
...more
Donna Morin
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There are hundreds of biographies written about the man, and equally as many historical novels breathing life back into the deceased author. Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen (author of Mrs. Poe) stands out, not only for her masterful writing, but for the particular facet of Twain’s life she captures, its end. From the first words, Cullen, a lyrical writer, sets the tone, one reminiscent of the iconic Jane Austen. Twain’s End is the story of Twain and Isabel, their struggles with their growing feelings ...more
Renee Ross
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If a book doesn't grab me in the first chapter, I'll usually abandon it. Or, I'll keep slogging along - constantly checking my progress - and feeling dismayed that there is so much of the story left. That's not to suggest that these books are of poor quality, only that I have very particular taste and not a lot of free time to devote to reading. This book had the opposite effect. Ms. Cullen brought the story to life so vividly, it felt more like a time machine than a novel. The intimate portraya ...more
Laura Lee
Nov 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5. Mark Twain and the relationships he had with his family. And the relationship he had with his secretary for six years. Loved how the story started at one junction then came back around to the end. Very creative. And excellent writing. I had liked her other book Mrs Poe so I had no doubt about reading this. Ms. Cullen shows she had done extreme research and studied what she had found out about Twain. I went back and forth in liking this man. He was not easy to like. Felt sorry for his daught ...more
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