Monday, July 21, 2014

Lynn Cullen: Mrs. Poe

Title:  Mrs. Poe

Author:  Lynn Cullen

Publisher:  Gallery Books

Pages:  352

Genre:  Fiction. Maybe even historical fiction and/or gothic fiction

Setting:  19th century New York

Where did you get it?  I bought myself a hard copy at Barnes & Noble. 

Why did you read it? The title caught my eye and I love historical period books. I'm also a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and thought that this book would be an entertaining and informative read.

From the publisher:  The triumphant success of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” compels fledgling poet Frances Osgood to meet her literary idol, a mysterious, complicated man who soon has her under his seductive spell in an all-consuming affair. And when Edgar’s frail young wife breaks into their idyll to befriend her rival, Frances fears that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .

What did you think? Just like I thought when I saw the intriguing cover, this novel was entertaining and informative. I've seen pictures of Poe and never thought of him as being a ladies man, lol. That he could be caught up in a dark and dangerous love triangle was surprising. I had also never heard of Frances Osgood, who happens to be a real figure in Poe's life, so I also learned something while reading this novel. It's funny, but before reading this novel, I thought I knew who Poe was. It turns out that I have some knowledge of his works but really, I don't know very much about the man himself. It's interesting that his work was actually well-received while he was alive and he was well-known. Also, interestingly, the term "Lisztomania" is more than just a song title (Lisztomania by Phoenix). It was derived from the behavior of ladies whenever they saw the musician Franz Liszt perform. They pretty much went crazy over him. I didn't even know such a thing as being star struck and celeb-crazy existed in the 19th century.

Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed Cullen's novel. I thought her use of historical style of writing was brilliant and it really helps to bring the reader into the realm of 19th century New York City and Poe's world. I also thought the romance between Poe and Osgood was very Jane Austin-ish in that they, and other romantic characters of that time, seemed to fall in love from sight rather than from actually knowing each other. I've always thought that style of romance writing came off as false (in the case of Austin's novels) but used here, it just lends to the feel of reading a book that written in the 19th century rather than the present. Additionally, I was left guessing who the sinister threat actually was until the reveal towards the end of the novel.

All in all, a great read and different from what I normally choose to read, which was nice. I'd give this a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars only because the romance between Osgood and Poe was a tiny bit annoying, lol. ::shrug:: I really want to read the rest of Cullen's works.

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