Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Like most people I’ve read Twain’s book Tom Sawyer, and awhile back I read some of his short stories as well. So as a big lover of Historical Fiction I was super excited to get a copy of this book.
Twain’s End is an easy book to read, it personally took me forever because I sometimes have a hard time reading books on my kindle. But once I actually sat down and forced myself to read I found the pages flying by.
Lynn Cullen is a fantastic writer. She made the man Twain come to life, and all of the characters actually, in such a unique way. She shows the story of Twain and Lyon’s love from many different perspectives. And I loved it the way she made me feel for everyone, even the characters I hated like Twain’s daughter Clara. Even Twain himself is an unlikable yet sympathetic character. Ruling over the women in his life with an iron fist and being an absolute dick practically all of the book. And yet I ended feeling for him so much.
Isabel Lyon’s character is so interesting. She’s so good, and loving and kind to everyone. Even with her flaw of loving Twain while his wife was alive, she never acted on her feelings. She was also frustrating with how she let Twain walk all over her. How she let everyone walk all over her. Mark Twain was abusive at times in the story and still she loved him and that upset me a little.
But in the end I really enjoyed the story. I gave it four stars on Goodreads, and was given a copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.