Inspired by literatures most haunting love triangle, now in trade paper, award-winning author Lynn Cullen delivers a pitch-perfect rendering of Edgar Allan Poe, his mistresss tantalizing confession, and his wifes frightening obsession in this new masterpiece of historical fiction.
Inspired by literature's most haunting love triangle, award-winning author Lynn Cullen delivers a pitch-perfect rendering of Edgar Allan Poe, his mistress's tantalizing confession, and his wife's frightening obsession in this new masterpiece of historical fiction to which Sara Gruen says, "Mrs. Poe had my heart racing...Don't miss it!"
And make sure to check out the captivating new novel from Lynn Cullen-Twain's End-where the acclaimed author tells a fictionalized imagining of the relationship between iconic author Mark Twain and his personal secretary, Isabel Lyon.
1845: New York City is a sprawling warren of gaslit streets and crowded avenues, bustling with new immigrants and old money, optimism and opportunity, poverty and crime. Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" is all the rage-the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream. As a mother trying to support two young children after her husband's cruel betrayal, Frances jumps at the chance to meet the illustrious Mr. Poe at a small literary gathering, if only to help her fledgling career. Although not a great fan of Poe's writing, she is nonetheless overwhelmed by his magnetic presence-and the surprising revelation that he admires her work.
What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit affair...and with each clandestine encounter, Frances finds herself falling slowly and inexorably under the spell of her mysterious, complicated lover. But when Edgar's frail wife, Virginia, insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and twisted as one of Poe's tales. And like those gothic heroines whose fates are forever sealed, Frances begins to fear that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself...
"When struggling poet and betrayed wife Frances Osgood meets Edgar Allen Poe, she is hoping only for a boost in her literary career-certainly not what came next. Swept into an illicit love affair with the complicated, magnetic, and married Poe, Osgood and Poe must together face the consequences, which are no less horrific or revenge-filled than his best loved horror stories-and quite possibly as deadly. Mrs. Poe had my heart racing...Don't miss it!" Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
Mrs. Poe One
When given bad news, most women of my station can afford to slump onto their divans, their china cups slipping from their fingers to the carpet, their hair falling prettily from its pins, their fourteen starched petticoats compacting with a plush crunch. I am not one of them. As a lady whose husband is so busy painting portraits of wealthy patrons-most of whom happen to be women-that he forgets that he has a family, I have more in common with the girls who troll the muddy streets of Corlear's Hook, looking to part sailors from their dollars, than I do with the ladies of my class, in spite of my appearance.
This thought bolted into my mind like a horse stung by a wasp that afternoon at the office of The Evening Mirror. I was in the midst of listening to a joke about two backward Hoosiers being told by the editor Mr. George Pope Morris. I knew that the news Mr. Morris was obviously putting off giving me must not be good. Still, I laughed delightedly at his infantile joke, even while choking on the miasma created by his excess of perfumed hair pomade, the open glue pot sitting upon his desk, and the parrot cage to my left, which was in dire need of changing. I hoped to soften him, just as a "Hooker" softens potential customers by lifting a corner of her skirt.
I struck when Mr. Morris was still chuckling from his own joke. Showing teeth brushed with particular care before I had set off to confront him after a silence of twenty-two days, I said, "About the poem I sent you in January. . . ." I trailed off, widening my eyes with hopefulness, my equivalent of petticoat lifting. If I was to become independent, I needed the income.
No sailor considering a pair of ankles looked more wary than Mr. George Pope Morris did at that moment, although few sailors managed to achieve the success he had at toilet, particularly with his hair. Never before had such a lofty loaf of curls arisen from a human head without the aid of padding. It was as if he had used his top hat for a mold. Whether by design or accident, one large curl had escaped the mass and now dangled upon his forehead like a gelatinous fishhook.
"Might you have misplaced it?" I asked lightly. Maybe he would appreciate putting the blame on his partner. "Or perhaps Mr. Willis has it."
His gaze slid down to my bosom, registered the disappointment of seeing only cloak, then snapped back to my face. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Osgood. To be quite frank, it is not what we are looking for."
"I'm certain that your female readership would enjoy my allusions to love in my descriptions of flowers. Mr. Rufus Griswold has been so kind to include some of my poems in his recent collection. Perhaps you've heard of it?"
"I know Griswold's collection. Everyone does-he's made sure of it. How that little bully got to be such an authority on poetry, I'll never know."
"Threats of death?"
Mr. Morris laughed, then waggled his finger at me. "Mrs. Osgood!"
Quickly before I lost him: "My own book, published by Mr. Harper, The Poetry of Flowers and the Flowers of Poetry, sold quite well."
"When was that?" he asked distractedly.
"Two years ago." Actually it was four.
"As I thought. Flowers are not what is selling of late. What everyone is interested in these days are shivery tales. Stories of the macabre."
"Like Mr. Poe's bird poem?"
He nodded, causing the great greased curl to bounce. "As a matter of fact, yes. Our sales soared when we brought out the 'The Raven' at the end of January. Same thing happened when we reprinted it last week. I suspect we could reprint it ten times and it wouldn't be enough. Readers have gone Raven-mad."
"I see." I didn't see. Yes, I had read the poem. Everyone in New York had since it had first been published th