A reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem Ulalume.
The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart—these scary pieces by Edgar Allan Poe stirred the emotions of the literary ladies of his time. But in 1845, Poe stirred up gossip, too, with his attention to Frances Sargent Osgood, a poet deserted by her philandering husband. Poe’s deathly ill, 23-year-old wife (his first cousin, whom he married when she was 13) seems to be suspicious. Taking advantage of letters and published poems, imaginative historical novelist Cullen (Reign of Madness, 2011) cleverly spins a mysterious, dark tale told by Mrs. Osgood about the long-ago intrigue, with just enough facts to make it believable. Celebrities like Louisa May Alcott, Walt Whitman, and John Jacob Astor make cameo appearances. Others-the creator of graham crackers, the author of Bartlett’s Quotations, Horace Greeley-also step in for a fun romp through history. As the story unfolds, we’re left to wonder if Mrs. Poe is Edgar’s Mr. Hyde, or is Poe himself the villain? It’s enough to make the teacups rattle.
From the moment I read the first chapter, I was immediately enthralled by Lynn Cullen’s writing style. It is descriptive and beautiful in nature. With obvious love and admiration for Edgar Allan Poe and his works, the author writes her dialogue scenes with such authenticity you swear you are in the parlor of one of Poe’s closest friends. You have become an outsider who somehow received an invitation to one of these private gatherings where Mr. Poe will arrive with his ailing younger wife, Virginia, to read his latest published poem, “The Raven”.
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 as hard as The Cask of Amontillado ever did. Don’t miss it!