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Mrs. Poe Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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From Publishers Weekly
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
I knew nothing about the poet Frances Osgood before reading this book, although I was familiar with Edgar Allen Poe from his poetry and knew a little about his notorious personal life (such as marrying his 13-year-old cousin—the Mrs. Poe in the novel). Frances is a character worth rooting for, while Poe is portrayed as a dark, mysterious, and conflicted soul, as one might imagine from reading his poems. More importantly, the author has given us a number of creepy antagonists, which really ramp up the story's tension. There’s even a bit of a twist at the end. All in all, it makes for an engaging read.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At times romantic other times repetitive and at the same time chilling, this story is a worthy read about a controversial affair with Frances Osgood and American writer Edgar Allan... Read morePublished 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great book. Loved the history and the drama. I would recommend it to any lover of history and/or literature. Give it a try!Published 2 months ago by Karla Redus
I'm not one to read historical fiction much, but after reading this book I think I'm hooked to the genre. Ms. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Momokain
A well written story based around known history. It really brought me into the difficulties of Poe's life on a different level than other reads have done. Read morePublished 2 months ago by BRex
very good book, keeps you interested from beginning to end. A very good look at life in another time.Published 3 months ago by Wineglass50