Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: October 2013
Duration: 12 hours 4 minutes
Frances Osgood is desperately trying to make a living as a writer in New York in 1845, which is not an easy task for a woman—especially a woman with two children and a philandering portrait painter as her husband who has abandoned her.
As Frances tries to sell her poems and stories, her editor repeatedly tells her that he's only interested in writing similar to that of the mysterious, new literary sensation Edgar Allan Poe, whose poem, “The Raven,” has hit a public nerve.
Soon after, Frances meets the handsome and mysterious Poe at a literary party. She is immediately drawn to him, but he is merely dismissive when she tells him that she has published collections of poetry.
A few days later, however, Frances hears that Poe gave a lecture praising her collection of poems. She’s shocked at the news since he is known for only criticizing the work of his fellow poets. Poe asks to discuss poetry with Frances but instead ends up confiding in her about his dissatisfaction with his own work. He asks Frances to meet with his wife since she is an admirer of her poems. Frances is curious to meet Mrs. Poe, as she is Edgar’s cousin whom he married ten years prior, when she was very young. Frances is alarmed by her encounter with Mrs. Poe, who acts like an innocent child but seems malicious and slightly mentally impaired.
When Frances is approached to write an article about Mr. and Mrs. Poe, she initially refuses, until she hears that Edgar has agreed to it on the condition that it is written by her. Frances is desperate for money, so she agrees. But as she begins to spend time with Edgar alone, Frances recognizes the danger of her task, because she is so deeply attracted to him. She commences spending more and more time with the Poes as a couple.
As Frances does so, she comes to see that though Mrs. Poe pretends to be the innocent captured by an older man, it’s actually she who manipulates and controls Edgar through his pity for her sickness and his guilt at having married her when she was just thirteen.
Although they initially try to ignore their feelings, Edgar and Frances become increasingly obsessed with each other and begin to carry on a passionate affair, endangering Frances' reputation in society circles. Edgar feels that Frances is everything that Mrs. Poe is not. Frances spends more and more time with the Poes, but Virginia seems to be unaware of the affair. Even when she catches the lovers together, she ignores what she has seen.
In spite of Mrs. Poe's pretense of innocence, however, Frances realizes that Virginia is subtly thwarting their relationship--and Frances's well-being. Frances' social standing is further endangered when she obtains an unwanted suitor in writer Rufus Griswold, whose jealousy of Frances and Edgar's alleged affair threatens to ruin them both. When the stakes escalate, Frances must decide whether she can walk away before it's too late.