Virginia, Sissy, Clemm was 8 years old when she met her "perfect" husband or what in her childish dreams amounted to a perfect husband. It was her 21 year old cousin Edgar Poe arriving for a visit to her family home.
Edgar or Eddy is 13 years Sissy's senior but he enjoys interacting with his much younger cousin. He states that she doesn't act her age or think like a child her age but much older. Eddy is undecided on what to do with his life. He had started college but his foster father disowned him, leaving him penniless. With the help of their grandmother, Eddy heads to West Point, only to be asked to leave. All the while, he's busy writing until he finally lands a position working in Richmond with a publisher.
By this time Sissy is 13 and Eddy has promised to take care of her and her mother. Soon, the Clemm women join him. Rumors concerning Eddy and Sissy begin causing Sissy's mother to finally agree to let them marry, as they have been wanting too. However, Sissy's mother believes that Sissy is too young for marital relations and makes Eddy agree to wait until she is 16, much to Sissy's dismay.
As this young couple begins their life together with Sissy's mother, they will find life isn't always the way they would like it to be. They will travel, move and deal with problems that could destroy them all. This is also when Eddy will write his most memorable stories.
This is a fantastic story. Based in fact, this story follows the life of Sissy Clemm from the time she was 8 until her death. Intertwined with her life is that of her famous cousin, Edgar Allan Poe. Through her eyes, Poe comes to life and his shortcomings and genius are all exposed through love.
The characters in this story, especially Sissy, are terrific. They truly come to life as factual events happen and history is made. They don't feel stiff or made up but true emotion comes through. Sissy loves Eddy so very much and is furious that her mother dares to interfere with her marriage but is still young enough to not want to cause trouble. Her nervousness in situations and the dreams she has of being a singer come across as very realistic.
It is well known that Poe had issues. Some think he might have been an opium addict. In this book, his alcohol problem is highlighted. Regardless, his writing was dark and violent and his behavior erratic. His inspiration is Sissy and that comes across extremely well.
There is a bit of paranormal activity in this story too. (There has to be, this is Poe!) Sissy seems to see ghosts. She doesn't always see them. When she does, it always seems to mean something. At the end, even Sissy is a ghost and she still loves her Eddy.
I really enjoyed this well written, historically accurate account of Sissy and her life with Edgar Allan Poe. It kept my interest and gave me some wonderful insights into their lives and the era they lived in.
I can only highly recommend this book. It's more than just a history story, it's a love story with a touch of mysterious happenings.
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.