I have a surprise for you today - an adult book, MRS. POE by my dear friend Lynn Cullen. Lynn has also written books for the younger set, like I AM REMBRANDT'S DAUGHTER and MOI AND MARIE ANTOINETTE. So, I'm thrilled to have Lynn on today to help promote her latest book, although it's been selling gang-busters. Lynn shares a touching story with us about reading to her children. Take it away Lynn!
I’m all about books. I read them every spare moment I have, which these days is generally only when I’m not writing them. I got my affliction from my dad, who so loved reading that he always kept a Reader’s Digest in the glove-box of the car, on the toilet, and in his coat-pocket, so he would never be caught without a story to peruse. My favorite activity as a kid was to ride my bike a couple miles to the library and load a paper grocery sack—the big size—with fictionalized biographies of Abe Lincoln, Helen Keller, and Daniel Boone, as well as every last book in the Little House on the Prairie series. I’m one of those people who cannot sleep without a nightcap of turning the pages of a novel before bed. Whenever I pass a bookstore, be it in an airport, shopping center, or strip mall, I look longingly at all the lovely spines and wonder what I’m missing. I’ll willingly sacrifice gazing at the scenery for reading while riding in a car.
But as addicted as I am to consuming the written word, for a few short years there was time when reading was not quite a complete and utter pleasure. There was a time when I dreaded it almost as much as changing a tire: the years when my kids were small.
Granted, this brief anathema to reading came only at their bedtime. And it increased with the ratio of kids to mom, especially after throwing the birth of three kids in four years into the equation. But after doling out three home-cooked meals a day, plodding along under the weight of kids and their bags of gear to the park, a museum, or the library, and then scrubbing three wiggling, chattering monkeys and pinning them down to brush their teeth, I was the one who was cooked.
A photo of Lynn in one of her fave writing spots and with her dog, Rosie.
Yet I never considered the possibility of NOT reading to them. It was almost as if I thought their vulnerable brains might melt without a dose of nutritious reading each day. I knew how important infusing their minds with story construction and ideas and laughter had to be for them. What I didn’t know was how good reading to them would be for me.
Now that my girls are grown, when I look back over their childhoods, what comes back to me most vividly is reading with them each night. I can still smell their damp hair, soap-scented skin, and young breath as they lie in the crook of my arm. I can still feel the delicate wings of their shoulders and the rise and fall of their narrow chests. I can hear their baby voices and the funny construction of phrases unique to each as we talked about the stories. More than the trips, the meals, the baths or anything else, I remember the bond with and the awe for each of these wondrous souls as we turned the pages together.
Now when I read to my grandchildren, I notice my daughters hovering nearby, relieved to give up their duty for a switch but also not quite comfortable with resigning from their usual place behind the book. I understand. These precious moments are finite in their number. But little do my children know that even as I am delighting in their babies, I am savoring, oh, I am savoring, the sweet memory of cradling them.
Lynn Cullen's newest novel, Mrs. Poe, examines the fall of Edgar Allan Poe through the eyes of his lover, poet Francis Osgood. A National Bestseller, Mrs. Poe has been named a Target Book Club Pick, a NPR 2013 Great Read, an Oprah.com "Books That Make Time Stand Still," an Editor's Pick at The Historical Novels Review, an Atlanta Magazine Best Books 2013, and an Indie Next Pick. Lynn is also the author of The Creation of Eve, named among the best fiction books of 2010 by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and as an April 2010 Indie Next selection. She has written numerous award-winning books for children, including the young adult novel I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter, which was a 2007 Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and an ALA Best Book of 2008. Her novel, Reign of Madness, about Juana the Mad, daughter of the Spanish Monarchs Isabella and Ferdinand, was chosen as a 2011 Best of the South selection by the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was a 2012 Townsend Prize finalist" and was just chosen as a "Book That All Georgians Should Read" by the Georgia Center for the Book. Her newest picture book for children, "Dear Mr. Washington" will be released by Dial/Penguin Books for Young Readers in early 2015 and is a Library Guild Selection. She is currently working on a novel about the women in the life of Mark Twain."
Simon and Schuster has generously offered to send a free copy of MRS. POE to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US to win - enter below: