Monday, November 9, 2015

"Twain's End" - Lynn Cullen

Hello fellow bibliophiles! Today's e-ARC was made possible thanks to Netgalley! Thank you!! Twain's End by Lynn Cullen was interesting. Viewing a life from someone else's perspective always adds an intriguing dynamic to what you know about a person.

In March of 1909, Mark Twain cheerfully blessed the wedding of his private secretary, Isabel V Lyon, and his business manager, Ralph Ashcroft. One month later, he fired both. He proceeded to write a ferocious 429-page rant about the pair, calling Isabel 'a liar, a forger, a thief, a hypocrite, a drunkard, a sneak, a humbug, a traitor, a conspirator, a filthy-minded and salacious slut pining for seduction.' Twain and his daughter, Clara Clemens, then slandered Isabel in the newspapers, erasing her nearly seven years of devoted service to their family. How did Lyon go from being the beloved secretary who ran Twain's life to a woman he was determined to destroy?

In Twain's End, Lynn Cullen reimagines the tangled relationships between Twain, Lyon, and Ashcroft, as well as the little-known love triangle between Hellen Keller, her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy, and Anne's husband, John Macy, which comes to light during their visit to Twain's Connecticut home in 1909. Add to the party a furious Clara Clemens, smarting from her own failed love affair, and carefully kept veneers shatter. 

Based on Isabel Lyon's extant diary, Twain's writing and letters, and events in Twain's boyhood that may have altered his ability to love, Twain's End explores this real-life tale of doomed love."

Lynn Cullen is a great writer. She took information gained through research from Lyon's personal diary, Clara Clemen's biography of her father, and many other works depicting Sam Clemen's life to narrate a great historical fiction novel based on his real-life events. While the book is mostly narrated from Isabel's point-of-view, there are times when the reader is seeing things from Mrs. Lyons or Clara's viewpoint. The beginning of the book was a little hard for me to follow as I know nothing about Sam Clemens or Mark Twain. I had trouble following things chronologically (I need to pay better attention to dates when reading!) as well as the flow of the writing until I got the hang of Cullen's style.

Now in terms of the storyline itself, let me be upfront with you. I'm not a fan of the classics. AH, I know, shame on me! That's not to say that they are not great. They just don't interest me. If you were to ask me about The Odesessy or Huckleberry Finn, I would have nothing to say. I'll admit it. I skated by in school by reading the spark notes versions. They're just not my thing. That being said, overall this is a good book. I'm still torn between whether I enjoyed the book, but that goes towards my interest in Mark Twain and nothing at fault of the author. If you like Twain, then I'm sure you will love this book! Thanks again NetGalley! As always, feel free to share any comments, suggestions, or recommendations! I'd love to hear what you think of the book!

Happy reading fools :)

Follow Lynn Cullen on Twitter: @LynnCullenBooks or check out her website and other books at !

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