Days When My Heart Was Volcanic: A Novel of Edgar Allan Poe
Reviewed by Tiffany Schlarman for Reader Views (09/10)
“Days When My Heart Was Volcanic” chronicles six months in the life of Jeremiah Delaney and Edgar Allan Poe. Jeremiah finds himself in the company of the Poe’s under a chance meeting and quickly becomes a friend and companion to the family. Unfortunately Jeremiah harbors love for Poe’s wife Virginia. It is a love that will slowly set his life off course, cause him to make unsavory decisions and throw him into despair. The series of events that both Mr. Poe and Mr. Delaney face are a downward spiral that threatens their existence. The tale is grim and sad as one of Americas most loved authors is chronicled during his moments of deepest torture and despair.
The novel is very well written, allowing the reader to feel a sensation of the era. A very clear picture is drawn for the reader of life during this time period. The book is set in 1846 against the backdrop of New York City and its surrounding countryside. The language and emotions fit the era making the novel feel as if it were fact and not fiction. The author does a wonderful job portraying the life of Edgar Allan Poe during these months of turmoil and frustration. Along with the impending loss of his wife Edgar deals with his own emotional demons and literary off scouring. In turn, Jeremiah’s life is uprooted and drastically changed. The love, despair, hurt and sadness is felt deeply by the reader.
I found the book to be well written but uninspiring. The momentum of the book was slow for me. I was not able to fully immerse myself in the novel. The subject matter was quite depressing and I found the characters lives full of void. The novel states that it is a “novel of Edgar Allan Poe,” which it is, but at the same time it is just as much about Jeremiah as it is Poe. The story is told through Jeremiah’s recall, making the reader feel the novel is about him rather than Poe. I felt Poe was used in the novel to help convey how Jeremiah had gotten to the point he arrives at in the end. I enjoyed the writing and the author’s ability to tell the tale. I would recommend “Days When My Heart Was Volcanic” to readers who admire Edgar Allan Poe or who enjoy history and literature of the 1800s.