There seems to be subcategory of historical fiction devoted the lives of women related to famous men. As readers, we are meant to see the men through the lens of the women who knew them. Lynn Cullen adds another book to the genre with her book, “Mrs. Poe”.
Cullen’s story is told from the point of view of Edgar Allen Poe’s mistress, Frances Osgood and places her in opposition to Poe’s wife. Mrs. Osgood is a struggling poet with two children and an artist husband who has abandoned her for the moment. Through her connection to literary New York, Osgood meets Mr. Poe and his wife.
A rivalry begins between the two women and drama follows.
While the book is not exceptional, it has a few qualities that make it enjoyable. Cullen lets readers into the world of 1800 century literature and many authors that will appear on high school reading lists are brought through the novel. Osgood and her children are living with the Barletts (as in the famous Barlett’s Quotations).
Additionally, Cullen creates the time and place with subtlety. New York is on the verge of becoming a booming metropolis we now picture. In the novel, characters are fighting for a ‘central park’ because the open space is disappearing.
The book is quick read and fans of the time period or the genre will not be disappointed.