Twain’s End by Lynn Cullen
Samuel Clemens was his name and Mark Twain was his lot in life. We all know Mark Twain by what he wrote and often think we then know him as a person. But we are wrong. Twain’s End, takes us into the pages of the diary of his secretary and confidant and inseparable companion, Isabel Lyon. Sam Clemens was a tortured soul with the betrayals of his childhood haunting him and probably making it impossible for him to love another person. Little by little we find out what his childhood did to him as an adult.
Clemens had a very sick wife, a daughter who died and whose death he blames himself for, two daughters he refuses to allow to marry, an entourage of the wealthy and famous who covet even a moment of his time, legions of fans around the world all clamoring for a glimpse of him. And then there is Isabel Lyon, the one person he feels he can care about.
When Isabel and Clemens’ business manager marry, Samuel pretty much loses control of himself and publicly vilifies her. In print and through his lawyer he calls her “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.” He takes away her home and fires her and her husband.
One thing Samuel Clemens couldn’t do was share the limelight. He couldn’t be turned down. He couldn’t be bested. Anyone who tried or succeeded would live to regret it. He made sure.
Within these pages we are privy to the life behind the scenes of his stories based on the diary of Miss Lyon. This was an exceedingly good story.