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Big Reads: Setting the Scene with Mrs. Poe

Hello BRCT followers!

We’ve been warming up for our September kick-off by sharing the basics about Edgar Allan Poe. Bios, trivia and quizzes are all fun and informative, but they fail to paint the full picture of Poe’s mysterious world. To help set the scene and engage your imaginations, we recommend you pick up a copy of Mrs. Poe.

Mrs. Poe is a fascinating work of historical fiction. A fun and easy “Big Read,” it transports the reader into the world of the 1840’s New York literati with vivid detail and historical accuracy. The language of the book, as well as the painstaking research by author Lynn Cullen, fully immerses one in the era.

In Literacy Connects‘ own preparations for BRCT, several of the staff read Mrs. PoeThe feedback was unanimous — the historical social, political and literary context the book provides makes Poe more accessible. So, we encourage you to enjoy some fiction, engage your imagination, and step into the parlor with Poe at the height of Raven-mania.

Synopsis: “1845: New York City is a sprawling warren of gaslit streets and crowded avenues, bustling with new immigrants and old money, optimism and opportunity, poverty and crime. Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is all the rage—the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream. As a mother trying to support two young children after her husband’s cruel betrayal, Frances jumps at the chance to meet the illustrious Mr. Poe at a small literary gathering, if only to help her fledgling career. Although not a great fan of Poe’s writing, she is nonetheless overwhelmed by his magnetic presence— and the surprising revelation that he admires her work. 

What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit affair . . . and with each clandestine encounter, Frances finds herself falling slowly and inexorably under the spell of her mysterious, complicated lover. But when Edgar’s frail wife Virginia insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and twisted as one of Poe’s tales. And like those gothic heroines whose fates are forever sealed, Frances begins to fear that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death itself. . . .”