Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mrs. Poe: Book Review & Giveaway

Mrs. Poe
Published By: Gallery Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2014 (Paperback Edition)
Page Count: 352
Source: Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Historical Fiction

I have long been an admirer of Edgar Allan Poe's work and I thought I knew a lot about his life. For example, I knew that he married his cousin when she was merely thirteen. As someone who was born in the 1980's, I found this antiquated notion to be archaic and slightly barbaric. How could a thirteen year old make a good wife when she was still learning who she was? In addition, I had heard troublesome rumors of Poe's gambling and addictions. I never stopped to consider that the Poe I thought I knew may not be the man who actually existed. What if there was more to Poe than the horrible pain of his childhood and a penchant for the macabre? This question made me anxious to begin reading Mrs. Poe to find out if there was more to the story.

Mrs. Poe does focus on Edgar and his wife, Virginia, but it also intrudes a woman that I had not heard of previously: Frances Osgood. Frances is also a poet and in the beginning she is rather leery of Poe. She finds his dark musings to be annoying and she refuses to read "The Raven" despite its popularity throughout New York City. After being thrust into the same social settings as Poe on multiple occasions, Frances finds herself attracted to the handsome, peculiar gentleman. This will lead her and Poe down a dark and winding path. Things are not simple for two people in the 1840's who have an affection for someone who is not their spouse. 

While I did enjoy learning more about Frances Osgood, I have to admit that thinking of Edgar Allan Poe as a leading man was difficult for me. I have never thought of him as handsome or particularly appealing outside of his writing talents. In fact, I always think of him as a broken man with a shroud of darkness hanging over his creativity. I feel like he was just slightly off kilter from the rest of society. For me, this would be more unnerving than appealing. I did not understand Frances' attraction nor how she was willing to push everything aside to follow her feelings. 

The relationship between Frances Osgood and Virginia Poe was one thing that kept me reading. I couldn't quite figure out if these women were truly friends or bitterest enemies. I could certainly have understood why Virginia would have despised Frances. In many ways, their friendship mirrored the themes of Poe's literary works. 

In addition, I also enjoyed the commentary on women's rights during this time period. My heart broke for Frances as she waited for Samuel to return and take care of his family. Social decorum dictated that she could not divorce him even when she knew that he was unfaithful. The double standard for men and women in this time period is infuriating. Women were supposed to be meek and subservient. I enjoyed seeing women like Frances seeking to break gender barriers with the written word.

Furthermore, I loved seeing other historical figures pop up from time to time. My favorite appearances were Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, and Samuel Morse. I loved that Lynn Cullen did such a beautiful job weaving together fact and fiction. Cullen's writing is luscious and vivid; she paints a portrait of life in the 1840's that transports the reader back in time.

Lastly, there is a bit of darkness that hovers over this read. I liked that it was a slow burn rather than a roaring fire. When this element finally hits its frantic crescendo, my heart was pounding so loudly I could swear my husband could hear it. 

All in all, I really enjoyed this novel. I did have to work really hard to see Poe in a new light in order to enjoy his role in the story. This novel made me want to do more of my own research on this fascinating literary figure. I have also been inspired to learn more about women writers during the 1800's. 

One Last Gripe: Adultery always frustrates me.

My Favorite Thing About This Book: Learning more about women's history and Poe's life

First Sentence: 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.

Favorite Character: Eliza 

Least Favorite Character: Griswold

Please join Lynn Cullen as she tours with HF Virtual Book Tours for the paperback release of Mrs. Poe

 Paperback Publication Date: April 1, 2014 Gallery Books 

 Great Reads of 2013 - NPR 
 Books That Make Time Stand Still - 
 Editors Pick - The Historical Novels Review 
 Best Books of 2013 - Atlanta Magazine 
 Indie Next List Pick 

 A vivid and compelling novel about a woman who becomes entangled in an affair with Edgar Allan Poe the same time she becomes the unwilling confidante of his much-younger wife. 

 It is 1845, and Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York; not an easy task for a woman especially one with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband. As Frances tries to sell her work, she finds that editors are only interested in writing similar to that of the new renegade literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, "The Raven" has struck a public nerve. 

 She meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party, and the two have an immediate connection. Poe wants Frances to meet with his wife since she claims to be an admirer of her poems, and Frances is curious to see the woman whom Edgar married. 

 As Frances spends more and more time with the intriguing couple, her intense attraction for Edgar brings her into dangerous territory. And Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child, is actually more manipulative and threatening than she appears. As Frances and Edgar's passionate affair escalates, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it's too late... 

 Set amidst the fascinating world of New York's literati, this smart and sexy novel offers a unique view into the life of one of history's most unforgettable literary figures.

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Mrs. Poe

Praise for Mrs. Poe

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times 

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –, Book of the Week 

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People 

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR 

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review 

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review 

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Lynn Cullen talks Edgar Allen Poe and Mrs. Poe

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About the Author

Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the fifth girl in a family of seven children. She learned to love history combined with traveling while visiting historic sites across the U.S. on annual family camping trips. She attended Indiana University in Bloomington and Fort Wayne, and took writing classes with Tom McHaney at Georgia State. She wrote childrenís books as her three daughters were growing up, while working in a pediatric office and later, at Emory University on the editorial staff of a psychoanalytic journal. While her camping expeditions across the States have become fact-finding missions across Europe, she still loves digging into the past. She does not miss, however, sleeping in musty sleeping bags. Or eating canned fruit cocktail. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, their dog, and two unscrupulous cats. 

 Lynn Cullen is the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She is also the author of numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandtís Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble ìDiscover Great New Writersî selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist. Her newest novel, MRS. POE, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of poet Francis Osgood. 

 For more information please visit Lynn Cullen's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, May 19 Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past 
Tuesday, May 20 Interview & Giveaway at Oh, For the Hook of a Book 
Wednesday, May 21 Interview & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary 
Thursday, May 22 Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict 
Friday, May 23 Review at A Bookish Affair
Monday, May 26 Review at 100 Pages a Day Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, May 27 Review at A Chick Who Reads 
Wednesday, May 28 Review at Turning the Pages 
Friday, May 30 Review at Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews 
Monday, June 2 Review at Let Them Read Books Review & Giveaway at Book Lovers Paradise 
Tuesday, June 3 Review at Kelsey's Book Corner Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books 
Wednesday, June 4 Review & Giveaway at Reading Lark 
Thursday, June 5 Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee Interview at Jorie Loves a Story Friday, June 6 Review at Jorie Loves a Story Interview & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection 
Monday, June 9 Review at Historical Tapestry 
Wednesday, June 11 Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry 
Thursday, June 12 Interview & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages 
Friday, June 13 Review at Peeking Between the Pages 
Monday, June 16 Review at Unabridged Chick Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews 
Tuesday, June 17 Review & Interview at Layered Pages Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick 
Wednesday, June 18 Review at Svetlana's Reads and Views


  1. Wow, I had no idea that Mrs, Poe was only thriteen when she was married. I have always loved his poetry and stories. I would love to learn more about both of the Poes.


  2. Mrs Poe is such an interesting book. A woman with children who wants to be a writer like Edgar Allen Poe. It is quite interesting regarding the relationship between Frances Osgood, Mrs and Mr Edgar Allen Poe.


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