In late April 2016, my good fortune led me to a meeting with Author Lynn Cullen during the Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery, Alabama. During a workshop discussion about the process of writing historical fiction she used her latest literary work, Twain’s End (Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster).
(The link above is an affiliate link. Should you make a purchase from this link, I may earn a commission on the sale at no additional cost to you.)Twain’s End book cover for the novel written by Lynn Cullen. This is such a good book.
Since meeting Lynn, her publisher has released a paperback edition of her book as well.
Lynn’s book is a 300-page magical blend of fact and fiction. Dashes of Twain-like prose are poignant.
This book captures the sweet smell of the hydrangeas so oft preferred by the likes of Mark Twain and more so, Samuel Clemens.
As a reader, one can’t discern the difference between what happened and the matter between the lines that Lynn so carefully filled in.
Her work is like a bricklayer setting mortar and bricks.
She accomplishes this feat through the watchful eye of Clemens’ personal secretary, Isabel Lyon, as she manages the building of his famous Connecticut home, Stormfield, in Redding.
All the critical elements of storytelling are wrapped delicately in the telling of this tale of love, conflict, and self-redefinition. Lynn helps us all see, through the eyes of an omniscient narrator, the emotional and mental struggles that plagued one of America’s greatest writers–some of the same troubles we all bear even today.
There is beauty in the poetry of the writing of Lynn Cullen. Often I found myself reaching for my iPhone to pull up a word she used to paint her imaginary scenes–words that I would then write down in my personal writer’s notebook to hopefully employ once again in a tale of my choosing.
For its historical value or not, Twain’s End is an enjoyable read and I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy as soon as you may.
Like all of us, Sam Clemens put on masks to create a world that was kinder and gentler than the one he knew. For the writer in me, passages where she framed the thoughts and events surrounding childhood wounds Clemens alleges, provided insight that’s value can not soon be measured.
In Chapter 30, Lynn has Hellen Keller ask the most pointed question of the work: “Don’t we all make up our own worlds?”
And therein lies the heart of the message in reading this book.
In my own writing–three as yet unpublished full-length works which you can read more about here–I have found relief from the pains of this life–ways to write (intended) wrongs out of existence; ways to heal pains of days that long since have passed me by that still hurt as much as paper slicing a finger’s flesh.
Pick up a copy of Lynn Cullen’s book, Twain’s End in hardback or paperback. You will be doing yourself a mental treat.