Twain's End (Hardcover)

By Lynn Cullen

Gallery Books, 9781476758961, 352pp.

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

October 2015 Indie Next List

“Isabel Lyon, who was born to gentility, supported herself as a nanny and a secretary and is best known as secretary/companion to the family of Samuel Clemens. Her late marriage to Clemens' business manager left her life in shambles, as afterwards both were fired and slandered. What led to those dramatic shifts is the premise behind Twain's End. Mark Twain may be beloved beyond all American writers, but Cullen has crafted a well-researched tale supporting the view that a very manipulative, selfish, and distant Samuel Clemens and his family hid behind that facade. It is up to you to decide. A marvelous read!”
— Becky Milner (M), Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA
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Description

"Reputation-squaring novel. Cullen splashes a surplus of fuel onto her incendiary raw material." --New York Times

"Ms. Cullen is the Bronte of our day." --Huffington Post

A "People Pick"

"Intelligently drawn." --Library Journal

Starred Review from Publishers Weekly

From the bestselling and highly acclaimed author of the "page-turning tale" (Library Journal, starred review) Mrs. Poe comes a fictionalized imagining of the personal life of America's most iconic writer: Mark Twain.

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 Helen 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 writings 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.
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