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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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Liz Myers on 10-18-15
Peeking in the window
The featured woman is Samuel Clemens' secretary, Isabel V. Lyon. I enjoyed the opportunity to peek in the window on the people who visited Clemens at his various homes, especially Helen Keller. The love triangles were lovingly fleshed out. The descriptions of the places, people, interiors of homes, gowns, and activities were well done.
The narration was pleasing to hear. The different voices were distinct enough to follow along effortlessly.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful