The Raven's Bride: Book summary and reviews of The Raven's Bride by Lenore Hart

The Raven's Bride

A Novel

by Lenore Hart

The Raven's Bride by Lenore Hart X
The Raven's Bride by Lenore Hart
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Book Summary

When eight-year-old Virginia "Sissy" Clemm meets her handsome cousin, Edgar Allan Poe, he seems the very image of the make-believe husband she conjures up in childhood games. He’s thirteen years her elder, but kind, soft-spoken, brooding, and handsome. Eddy floats in and out of her life as he fails his way through West Point and then the army. Each time he returns to Baltimore, their odd friendship grows, and her understanding of the moody, troubled writer deepens. As Sissy prepares for a career on the musical stage, her childhood crush turns to love. When she is 13, Eddy proposes marriage, swearing to care for her forever. Yet even child brides eventually grow up, and it's really Eddy who needs caring for, who leans on her. She gains his complete devotion, true -- yet also must endure his abrupt disappearances, strange moods, and the aftermath of alcoholic binges. Then, when she falls ill, Poe’s greatest fear – that he’ll once again lose a woman he loves – drives him both to near-madness, and to his greatest literary achievement.

This provocative novel explores the mysterious and confounding relationship between Poe and Sissy Clemm, his great love and constant companion. Lenore Hart, author of Becky, explores love, loss, the afterlife, and American literature's most haunted and demonized literary figure, by imagining the real, beating heart of the woman who loved and inspired him – and whose absence ultimately destroyed him.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is an impressive, original work that illuminates its subject." - Publishers Weekly

"A supernatural element frames the narrative, providing readers a satisfactory conclusion to a tragic tale. Highly recommended for fans of the slightly spooky and historical." - Library Journal

This information about The Raven's Bride shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Reader Reviews

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Undine

Deja Vu
When reading this novel, I gradually came to a very troubling conclusion: It--to put it in the mildest terms--borrows extensively from an earlier novel told from the point of view of Virginia Poe--Cothburn O'Neal's "The Very Young Mrs. Poe." There are entire sections in "The Raven's Bride" that mirror its predecessor: The scene where Poe and Virginia leave for their honeymoon and their arrival at Petersburg, the scene where she develops pneumonia, the scene where Poe, Virginia, and her mother arrive at Richmond, the scene of the couple boating on the Wissahickon, the scene where a drunken Poe arrives home carrying a caged bird that he bought in some low dive, the plot element having Virginia spend a year of bed rest, the scene where Poe unexpectedly returns to their home at the Brennan Farm to find that Virginia has taken to her bed, the scene where Virginia sends Poe into hysteria by tactlessly saying that he is just like his sister Rosalie, the scene where Poe, Virginia, and Mrs. Clemm arrive in Richmond (including the exact same description of the boardinghouse room Virginia and her mother are given)--the (completely invented) characterizations and descriptions of "Granny Poe," Thomas Dunn English, and other minor characters--even many specific lines of dialogue--all these, and more, are unnervingly similar. And it is not as though Hart and O'Neal both fictionalized similar historical sources. Rather, Hart used as source material scenes and dialogue completely invented by O'Neal. What we are given here cannot be called the historical Poe and Virginia--it is a homage to O'Neal's Poe and Virginia.

The similarities were unnerving enough to make me ignore the book's desperate need for a copyeditor: Frances Osgood is called "Osborne" several times, the married Elizabeth Ellet is called "Miss," in one scene Virginia's nightgown is described as "flannel" in one paragraph and "thin cotton" a few lines down...It all made me wonder if this novel wasn't written in a panicky deadline-inspired rush.

I hope every reader of "The Raven's Bride" also reads O'Neal's novel, to see if they come to the same conclusions.

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Author Information

Lenore Hart

Lenore Hart's novels include Waterwoman, Ordinary Springs, The Treasure of Savage Island and Becky: The Life and Loves of Becky Thatcher. She teaches in the graduate creative writing program at Wilkes Univesity, and at the Norman Mailer Writers Colony in Cape Cod. She lives in Virginia with novelist David Poyer and their daughter, Naia.

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