Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mrs. Poe (Lynn Cullen)

Lynn Cullen's Mrs. Poe is historical fiction at its finest.  Cullen certainly did her research in crafting this tale about Edgar Allan Poe, his wife Virginia, and his lover Frances Osgood.  While an author needs to be extremely careful about not tarnishing someone's name who is not here to defend himself, most of the events in Mrs. Poe have been thoroughly documented.

The mysterious Edgar Allan Poe has just published "The Raven" to astounding success.  Frances Osgood is a struggling writer who has been left by her philandering husband.  When her publisher discovers that people are craving Poe’s dark works, he gives Frances the task of parodying Poe's writings.  She gradually falls in love with Poe through interviewing him and his wife for Margaret Fuller's newspaper.  The sickly Virginia is less-than-kind when she finds out about their passionate affair, finding all types of ways to get her revenge.  Suspense then builds to a very satisfying conclusion.

I've reviewed a lot of historical fiction on 1776books, and this is one of the best.  It's very well written, thoroughly researched, and filled with historical characters from the past.  Most of the time, these well-known people are seamlessly woven into the text.  However, what's keeping this book from getting a 5 is the sometimes lame name dropping (a character referring to Hawthorne writing a book called the Scarlet something is an example). Other than that, Cullen does an exceptional job at filling in the blanks about one of America's greatest writers.