Library Journal

In this intelligently drawn portrait of the complicated, volatile, and fiery man who was Mark Twain, Cullen (The Creation of Eve) explores the complex, tortured relationship between Twain and his secretary Isabel Lyon. Initially meeting over a game of cards years earlier, Lyon is eventually hired on as secretary to Twain’s wife but over time becomes a trusted friend and confidante to the author. Over the course of several years, the relationship between Twain and Lyon turns romantic, much to the chagrin of his daughter, Clara, embittered by her own relationship with a married man. But a month after Lyon marries Twain’s business manager in 1909, he fires the two and embarks on a slanderous campaign against her.

Verdict Cullen expertly portrays both Samuel Clemens, the real man behind the myth who displayed a fierce temper at home with his wife and three daughters, and Mark Twain, his charming, gregarious alter ego, the author everyone loved. Fans of historical fiction and biographies will enjoy Cullen’s book, which is similar to her previous novel Mrs. Poe in terms of style. Readers interested in Twain’s life and work may find this a valuable addition.—Mariel Pachucki, Maple Valley, WA

Pubishers Weekly

The extraordinary relationship between the popular, complicated author Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, and his longtime secretary Isabel Lyon is wonderfully reimagined in this absorbing novel. Cullen (Mrs. Poe) depicts an immensely talented and virile, yet crude, hot-tempered, self-centered late-in-life Samuel, whose own children fear him and who remains tormented by his childhood with slave-owning parents—sordid realities that lie beneath the famous wit. Raised wealthy, Isabel must work after her father dies; she becomes social secretary to Livy Clemens, Samuel’s seriously ill wife, but in reality, she works for Samuel. Isabel is devoted, scheduling appearances, managing employees, paying bills and becoming the confidante to an aging, increasingly troubled, regretful man: “I kill the people I love with words,” he confides to Isabel. An intimacy develops, yet certain lines are not crossed. Messy romantic entanglements involving Samuel’s daughter Clara and her lover, Samuel’s business manager and Isabel, and even a visiting Helen Keller and her teacher’s husband make Samuel enraged and distrustful. Isabel and Samuel’s memorabilia are the basis of Cullen’s fascinating interpretation of this early 20th-century literary immortal, distinguished by incisive character portrayals and no-holds-barred scrutiny.

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Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso

Twain’s End is an exquisitely nuanced portrayal of the American icon and the woman who dared to love him. With superb attention to detail, and deep understanding and care for her protagonists, Lynn Cullen brings this deliciously complex story to life, delivering everything we expect in a modern masterpiece.

Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Chalice

Every room radiates with deliciously calibrated tension and hidden desires in Twain’s End. It is in its psychological truths that the novel succeeds most brilliantly, revealing the inevitable wounds in a relationship between a famous person and an ordinary one, and what happens when the balance of power changes. A riveting read.

New York Times bestseller M.J. Rose

We’re riveted as Twain comes alive — faults and all — but in the end we’re captured and captivated by him.
​Heartbreaking, passionate, profoundly interesting and readable. Cullen has once again jettisoned herself​ to another time and place and delivered historical fiction fans with an utterly fascinating read.

Susan Rebecca White, author of A Place at the Table

Lynn Cullen is both a masterful writer and literary detective. Meticulous research and keen curiosity led her to piece together a fascinating account of the last seven years of Mark Twain’s life. Cullen shows Mark Twain ‘warts and all,’ yet we—and the utterly sympathetic Isabel Lyon—still love his irascible spirit, a spirit that nearly leaps off the page. In short: Twain’s End is a fabulous read; I loved this book.

Susan Crandall, bestselling author Whistling Past the Graveyard and The Flying Circus

Twain’s End is an unflinching, clear-eyed view into the last years of one of American’s most beloved authors. Ms. Cullen delves deep and gives us a glimpse into the pain that shaped the mask worn by Samuel Clemens. Brilliant and insightful. I hated to reach the end.

Raymond Atkins, author of Sweetwater Blues

With Twain’s End, Lynn Cullen has once again proven herself a master of historical fiction… Cullen is an outstanding writer, and Twain’s End is an exceptional book.

Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude and Camille

The utterly fascinating and heartbreaking story of the aging literary lion Mark Twain and his intelligent, beautiful, devoted secretary Isabel who loved and understood him… a rich novel which will sweep you into a remarkable world.

Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl

The breadth of research and faithfulness to the subjects is evident in Twain’s End. With clarity and honesty, Cullen resurrects one of America’s most complicated and well-known writers and his intimates in vivid, fascinating, and sometimes shocking ways. Twain’s End is more than a study in character; it is a cautionary tale of the spoils of fame and power, and those intoxicated by it. Captivating.