November 6, 2015
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All I knew about Mark Twain was very basic. His real name was Samuel Clemens and he was the author of many wonderful books like Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huck Finn. Lynn Cullen’s book, Twains End (B) is quite an eye opener about this famous man, “America’s Sweetheart”.
Cullen, author of Mrs. Poe, takes on the story of Mark Twain writing from the perspective of his secretary Isabel Lyon. Her research led her to discover the dairy that Isabel kept while working for Sam. The journal verified many of the rumors about the author and confirmed for Cullen that Isabel was in love with him.
Sam wanted and needed to be loved by everyone. Childhood events altered his spirit making him believe (his entire life) that he would destroy anyone he loved. At times it appears that he works hard at being destructive. Not even his children are safe from his ire. Mark Twain uses his power with words to create magnificent stories while Sam uses them to hurt and alienate.
Twain’s End is very insightful. Cullen really delivers the story well. Certainly this is her expertise. At times, the book was as frenetic as the subject. There were moments I felt a bit lost and confused. It was like reading a recipe. Not until all the ingredients were added did the story become whole.
Twain’s End is perfect for someone like myself who has no patience for biographies. The essence of the man is clear, the story enlightening. I am now acquainted with an American icon. He spent years dictating his autobiography, one he did not want published until 100 years after his death. He knew himself well and he knew that once his story was out it would be hard to be “loved” and continue to be “American’s Sweetheart”.
I invite you all to be introduced to Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens through Twain’s End. *
*Twain’s End was the name considered for his residence in Connecticut.
My dry spell is over! I just finished Mrs. Poe (A) by Lynn Cullen. I read this book with an open mind since I knew very little about Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe’s famous poem “The Raven” was published in 1845. Instantaneously he became the most sought after poet in the country. Literary groups wanted him to speak and recite his poem at all their meetings. Women wanted to be in his presence, children played games of “nevermore” and other poets wanted their poems to reflect this “macabre” trend.
Her husband has abandoned Frances Osgood, the author of “Puss in Boots”. She has three young daughters that she must provide for. The money she receives from her writing is barely enough to get by. Luckily, she has been invited to live with her friend Eliza Bartlett in New York City the center for publishing and literary contacts. While there, she meets Edgar Allan Poe and falls under his spell. He is attracted to this very beautiful woman. The fact that she is a poet makes her more the prize. Even though he is married, she becomes everything he wants and needs.
Though Poe experts have never been able to confirm a romantic relationship between Poe and Osgood, it has always been much hinted at. Cullen has taken liberties and fabricated an all-consuming love affair. To the usual secrecy surrounding an affair, the author has added a dimension of mystery and intrigue.
After finishing the book, I decided to do some research of my own. I confirmed that most of the people mentioned in the book are indeed personalities of that time. They all had some contact with Poe. Many of the events she mentions did occur. Poe himself was mostly as he appears. He suffered from a lack of confidence; he was extremely poor and did have a drug and alcohol problem. He did marry his cousin Virginia when she was 13 and she was stricken and died from consumption.
For me, an historical fiction fan, this book ticked all my boxes. It was extremely well written and delivered accurate information about Edgar Allan Poe. I sincerely hope that you read this marvelous book. I know you will not be disappointed. Honestly, I think you will be surprised and entertained.