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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.