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Mrs. Poe Hardcover – October 1, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gallery Books (October 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476702918
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476702919
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cullen, whose previous novels have focused on obscure women from the past, such as Juana of Castile (Reign of Madness) and Sofonisba Anguissola (The Creation of Eve), now turns her attention to Frances Sargent Osgood, a mid-19th-century poet and children's author who, some believe, was romantically involved with Edgar Allen Poe. As the novel opens in 1845, Poe is the toast of literary New York, having just published the sensationally successful poem The Raven. Meanwhile, Mrs. Osgood, recently spurned by her philandering artist husband, is under enormous pressure to publish her work and thereby provide for her two young daughters. At a series of literary salons (many featuring cameos by other famous names of Poe's day), Mrs. Osgood and Poe develop a mutual attraction, as noticed not only by their peers but also by Poe's young and fragile wife, Virginia. Virginia's initially friendly overtures to her romantic rival become increasingly threatening, a nod to the macabre that seems unnecessary and gratuitous, as does the often-awkward insertion of research into the narrative. More successful is Cullen's portrayal of Osgood as a literary woman attempting to make a name (and a living) for herself against the odds. Agent: Emma Sweeney, Emma Sweeney Agency. (Oct.)

From Booklist

“The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart”—these scary pieces by Edgar Allan Poe stirred the emotions of the literary ladies of his time. But in 1845, Poe stirred up gossip, too, with his attention to Frances Sargent Osgood, a poet deserted by her philandering husband. Poe’s deathly ill, 23-year-old wife (his first cousin, whom he married when she was 13) seems to be suspicious. Taking advantage of letters and published poems, imaginative historical novelist Cullen (Reign of Madness, 2011) cleverly spins a mysterious, dark tale told by Mrs. Osgood about the long-ago intrigue, with just enough facts to make it believable. Celebrities like Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, and John Jacob Astor make cameo appearances. Others—the creator of graham crackers, the author of Bartlett’s Quotations, Horace Greeley—also step in for a fun romp through history. As the story unfolds, we’re left to wonder if Mrs. Poe is Edgar’s Mr. Hyde, or is Poe himself the villain? It’s enough to make the teacups rattle. --Laurie Borman

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Customer Reviews

Interesting story and very well written!
Katie
I have a great personal interest in the time in history in which this story takes place, the mid-1800s.
L. K. Bennett
Overall, the story is a bit contrived; Cullen is trying too hard to get the reader to like Poe.
Tash Last

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mrs. Poe - by Lynn Cullen

The title of this book can be a bit misleading. Yes, Virginia Poe is one of the main characters in the novel, but the main thrust of this book is the relationship of Edgar Alan Poe and Frances Sargent Osgood. As Mr. Poe is now in the spot light from "The Raven" which is making a big splash on the literary scene. We see some of the back story where Mrs. Poe revels in the new found notoriety and how it interacts with the people as the magnetic personality of Poe seems to work.

Frances Sargent Osgood (née Locke) (June 18, 1811 - May 12, 1850) was an American poet and one of the most popular women writers during her time. Nicknamed "Fanny," she was also famous for her exchange of romantic poems with Edgar Allan Poe. Osgood was a prolific writer and contributed to most of the leading periodicals of the time. She was one of the most admired women poets during the mid-1840s. Osgood was very open and personal in her writings, often discussing the relationships she had with others, despite her shy personality. A large portion of her body of work is love poetry but she also addresses poems to her mother, her sister, her husband, and several friends. The poems written to her children are not sentimental, but literary historian Emily Stipes Watts wrote that they "are honest attempts to express thoughts and emotions never so fully expressed before by women in poetry" depicting a sincere concern for their development and well-being.

In February 1845, Poe gave a lecture in New York in which he criticized American poetry, especially that of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He made special mention, however, of Osgood, saying she had "a rosy future" in literature.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on August 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many who have reviewed this book both on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com seem a bit preoccupied with the "historical accuracy" of Cullen's narrative. While I understand the need for historical authenticity in any work about a literary figure, even one as shrouded in every possible literary myth you could imagine, like Poe, it gets a bit chafing after awhile. Poe turned himself out as a larger than life character, and if you read a sober biography of him, I would say he earned it.

In "Mrs. Poe" by Lynn Cullen, we see the elusive figure of Frances Osgood, a sort of woulda coulda shoulda female figure in Poe's life, blown to fantastic proportions. With a very definite lyricism and definite darkness of prose (this is not a literary lite pick), Cullen illuminates how difficult it was for a woman to be taken seriously in letters at this time, and engages in speculative fantasy of the highest sort regarding the two.

Osgood was herself a sort of tragic figure, and one can safely put down her relationship with Poe as a flirtation that he may have taken a bit too seriously. A jinxed figure and a hysteric with an indifferent husband, Cullen drives home the kind of karma the two had via life circumstances very effectively. With Poe, why not fantasize? That's what he loved most after all, and understandably so, considering his own life. Cullen is a talent and this is highly recommended to anyone fascinated with Poe along with the neglected but fantastic would be biopic: The Lighthouse at the End of the World by Stephen Marlowe.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Anne M. Hunter VINE VOICE on August 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't think I would have ordered this book if I'd realized that it's
an historical romance, not an historical novel. Frances Osgood was a
(real) poet, who was quite popular in the New York literary society of
the 1840s. Horace Greeley, Rufus Wilmot Griswold, Elizabeth Ellet,
and Margaret Fuller, among many others notables, feature in the book. Osgood's connection with Poe was a major scandal, as they were both married, although Frances' husband had left her to dally with some of his portrait subjects. Poe and Frances Osgood wrote anonymous but
apparently quite obvious flirtatious poems to each other, published in
Poe's literary journal. The author works from these facts to invent
the details of both their relationship with each other, and the
relationship between Frances and Poe's wife and his mother-in-law.
These are all very dramatic, overwrought people, as the author draws them.

One aspect of the book that I particularly enjoyed was the friendship
between Frances and her friend Eliza Bartlett, who has taken Frances
and her two young daughters into her home after Frances is thrown out
of the Astor House hotel when her husband left behind a few months of
unpaid bills. The friendship and loyalty between the two women was
delightful. The servants were also real people and part of the story. Another nice thing was that the clothes were not described
constantly in great detail, as in many historical romances.

Frances seemed ambivalent to Poe -- she seemed too quick to accept
others' attempts to portray him as evil and dangerous. Mrs Poe and
her mother seem a bit mad and quite unpleasant.

The book was a fairly easy and exciting read, although it got a bit
repetitive.
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