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Nameless Here for Evermore

Review by Matthew Jackson

Often the hardest thing for a historical novel to do—especially one centered on a real and very famous figure—is surprise its reader. After all, we know how the stories of people like Anne Boleyn and Joan of Arc and even Edgar Allan Poe end. With Mrs. Poe, Lynn Cullen weaves a dark, sensuous love triangle between three real people, and in the midst of many real historical details, she creates something truly and wonderfully surprising.

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Mrs. Poe Reviewed on Oprah.com

Part romance, part mystery, part biography, this fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s, when poets were celebrities and the admission of emotions—like silk gowns and glossy beaver hats—were a luxury.

Leigh Newman reviews Mrs. Poe for Oprah.com.

Leigh Newman, Oprah.com

Part romance, part mystery, part biography, this fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s, when poets were celebrities and the admission of emotions—like silk gowns and glossy beaver hats—were a luxury. When we meet Frances Osgood, her husband has abandoned her. Day to day she tries to peddle her poetry to various editors, while struggling to keep up social pretenses and raise her two daughters. A chance meeting with Poe at a literary salon draws her into a not-so-healthy relationship with both him and his much younger, very ill wife—the latter of whom recognizes Frances as a credible threat to her marriage and tries to combat it with friendship. Enter a pompous, untalented editor name Griswold who sets his sights on Frances, and what you’ve got is a tale that boils down to the most universal yet riveting themes: affection and obligations versus the most profound kind of love, a meeting of the minds. Will things work out? Not to spoil the plot, but consider “The Raven.” The dark, ominous bird knocks at the door and the poet mutters, “On the morrow will he leave me, as my hopes have flown before.” A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.

Andrea Brooks, ­Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib

Cullen’s (The Creation of Eve; Reign of Madness) latest novel is a fictitious, yet historically based tale of a dark and delicious romance doomed from its start. Edgar Allan Poe, his wife, and his lover come to life among a cast of eccentric and notable figures from the mid-1800s American literary scene. Dark and brooding, Poe is a rising star in New York after the publication of his poem “The Raven.” He forms a connection with struggling writer Frances Osgood, and they fall into an illicit love affair. Their love is passionate and true, but a cloud hangs over the couple as they dodge not only gossip but also the moral implications of their actions. Meanwhile, Mrs. Poe, a seemingly sweet young woman dying from consumption, is possibly masking a vengeance more dangerous than anyone can fathom. VERDICT Cullen has crafted a beautifully heartbreaking story filled with emotional twists and turns. Yes, it’s dark, but so was Poe, and readers can expect a page-turning tale exposing the transgressions, antics, and heroics behind a literary icon. Literary fiction fans and readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.