Friday, February 7, 2014

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

Title: Mrs. Poe
Author: Lynn Cullen
Read by: Eliza Foss
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 12 Hours and 1 minute
Source: Digital Review Copy from Simon & Schuster Audio.  Thank-you!

Mrs. Poe is not centered on Virginia Poe, the wife of Edgar Allen Poe, but of Frances Osgood, an American Poet and perhaps lover of Edgar Allen Poe.  I’ll admit that I had never heard of Frances Osgood and when I first started to listen to this audiobook I googled her to find out more.  I discovered that she was indeed a real person and that sadly what she is remembered for now is not her poetry, but her relationship with Poe.

My picture of Poe was not that of a man that was “catnip” to the ladies, but he was known as a ladies man back in the day.  The book is set in the 1840’s after Poe has written “The Raven” and has settled in New York City with his wife Virginia and Virginia’s mother (and Poe’s Aunt), Mrs. Clem.  Poe and Frances Osgood meet in the literary circles of the day.  At this time, Frances is separated from her husband, a handsome, but unfaithful painter that has left her and their two daughters with no word on when or if he will return.  Luckily, Frances’s friend Eliza Bartlett has welcomed her and her two girls into her home.  Frances and Poe continue to meet in public and find that they have a mutual attraction and understanding of one another.  Virginia, Poe’s young wife, also strikes up a friendship with Frances.  This proves awkward with how Frances and Poe feel about each other, but also may be deadly as Frances begins to suspect that young Mrs. Poe considers her a rival and is trying to kill her.  Will Frances and Poe be able to throw off the restraints of society and have a relationship?  Is Virginia Poe the ruthless woman that Frances suspects she is?  You will have to read this book to find out!

Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook and would recommend it to anyone that loves historical fiction or a good suspenseful romance story.  Eliza Foss was a fine narrator and I began to identify her voice as that of Frances.  It was soothing and enjoyable to listen to.  I loved all of the historical references in the book.  The various characters that Frances runs into like Louisa May Alcott, Herman Melville, and Teddy Roosevelt to name a few were intriguing.  It is amazing to think about such personalities all living or visiting New York City during the same time.  I also loved learning about Frances Osgood and her relationship with Poe.  I also loved learning about another side of Poe that I previously didn’t know about.  This is a great romantic historical fiction novel, although the real life events of what happened after this book ended at the note at the end were a bit gloomy.  But in a story of Poe, isn’t that what one would expect?

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