ISBN #: 978-1476702919
Page Count: 336
Copyright: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Gallery Books
(Taken from Amazon)
A writer and his demons. A woman and her desires. A wife and her revenge ...
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 ...
I have read some of the Mrs. Poe reviews on Amazon and Goodreads written by other "readers" of this novel. I say "readers" because it is evident by their review that they either a) didn't really read the novel, b) didn't really understand the novel, or c) were so caught up in making sure it was historically correct that they forgot that this is a fiction novel based loosely on facts.
For example, one Goodreads reviewer stated that she was disappointed because the title implied the novel would be about Mrs. Poe when it was really about Poe's mistress, Franny. If the reviewer would have read the novel, she would have seen within the first chapter or two that "Mrs. Poe" was a title suggested by an editor of a newspaper to Franny. Here's the basis of that suggestion: Franny is trying to get some of her poetry published. Her poetry, however, is flowery and sweet. The public is thirsty for things that will terrify them. So, to Franny, the editor suggests that she write something more macabre, perhaps something similar to Edgar Poe whose "The Raven" has been widely accepted ... a sort of "Mrs. Poe," if you will. Later on in this novel the reader sees that the actual Mrs. Poe does play a (somewhat) major role. Actually, it's her presence, felt by Franny's guilty conscience, that is her most prominent role. So to say the title is misleading is false.
An Amazon reviewer stated there was a lot of name dropping in the novel. Instead of just looking at the people's names who were "dropped" into the story, consider this: perhaps the author was giving the readers some references as to the time frame of our nation. I don't know about you, but when I see a year (i.e. 1847) I don't automatically think, "Oh, that was right around the time Mr. Graham invented the Graham cracker." To have those references written into the story gives me a frame of mind when reading the novel. It was a time of burgeoning inventions, abilities, and writers that we still use and read today. Back then, it wasn't name dropping to say who was at what event, unless they were already well established. The people of that day had no idea how infamous Mr. Graham, Mr. Morse, or the author of a well-beloved Christmas poem would become. It was just another day to them.
And then we have another reviewer who claimed Fran was wishy-washy in how she felt concerning her relationship to Poe. Fran was never wishy-washy. She never WANTED to end her relationship with Poe, but she did try a few times to leave him alone based on several reasons: her children, Poe's legal wife, and her safety as well as the safety of her friend's and children. In spite of all those obstacles, she continuously loved Poe. She ached for him. She longed for him. With a love that strong, a person would be hard-pressed to be wishy-washy in their affections. However, a person does have the right to decide, no matter how difficult the decision, to try and leave their loved one alone for the betterment of all persons involved. It doesn't mean she loved him any less. It just means she was trying to be the responsible party and live with her undying love in private.
Overall, I did find this novel haunting, thrilling, and engaging. I fell in love with Poe and Franny's romance. I'm already a fan of Poe's work. To see another side to him, a softer side to his tormented soul, was refreshing and wonderful. There is no way I can give this novel any less than 5 stars. Way to go, Mrs. Cullen!
*An ecopy of the book was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.