Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain's Final by Karen Lystra

By Karen Lystra

The final part of Mark Twain's existence is unfortunately ordinary: Crippled by means of losses and tragedies, America's maximum stand-up comedian sank right into a deep and sour melancholy. it's also improper. This booklet recovers Twain's ultimate years as they truly were--lived within the shadow of deception and prejudice, but additionally within the gentle of the author's unflagging strength and exuberance. risky Intimacy relates the tale of the way, almost immediately after his wife's dying in 1904, Twain basked within the attentions of Isabel Lyon, his flirtatious--and calculating--secretary. Lyon desperately desired to marry her boss, who used to be virtually thirty years her senior. She controlled to exile Twain's youngest daughter, Jean, who had epilepsy. With assistance from Twain's assistant, Ralph Ashcroft, who fraudulently received energy of lawyer over the author's funds, Lyon approximately succeeded in assuming entire keep an eye on over Twain's existence and property. thankfully, Twain well-known the plot being woven round him simply in time. So rife with twists and turns as to defy trust, the tale still involves indisputable, bright existence within the letters and diaries of these who witnessed it firsthand: Katy the housekeeper, Jean, Lyon, and others whose personal special, perceptive, frequently fun voices take us instantly into the center of the Clemens loved ones. simply as Twain extricated himself from the lies, prejudice, and self-delusion that nearly became him into an American Lear, so Karen Lystra liberates the author's final decade from a century of renowned false impression. during this gripping ebook we finally see how, overdue in existence, this American icon chanced on a deep kinship along with his youngest baby and persevered to discover the precarious stability of affection and discomfort that's one of many emblems of his paintings.

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With the skill of a ringmaster, she managed to balance her children’s needs, her husband’s career and celebrity, and the financial rebuilding necessitated by Twain’s disastrous investments. She lightened these heavy domestic burdens—and those of her husband—with quiet certainty and affirmation. ”50 CHAPTER 2 W Heartbreak In May 1895, the Clemens family returned to the United States and their summer home in Elmira, New York. There Sam made preparations for an extended lecture tour that he hoped would raise the money needed to clear his bankruptcy.

Susy was dead. ”12 Susy had been twenty-four. Katy, too, dreaded her first encounter with Livy. “I could hardly bear to look at Mrs. Clemens just at first,” she remembered. ’ ” “Oh, Mrs. ” Katy cried. “No, she just died. ” Katy’s religious determinism offered little comfort to the anguished mother in that desolate moment. The balm Livy needed was more intimate. She asked Katy to repeat all the little things that had occurred be- 24 • heartbreak fore Susy died. ’ ” Livy asked her to repeat that story many times in the early hours of her grief.

Indeed, Katy’s mother was reluctant to let her go and only agreed after an interview with Mrs. 26 Livy, who was sixteen years older than Katy, became a great influence in the housekeeper’s life. In a memoir dictated in 1925, Katy looked back on the years in Hartford with great satisfaction and did not appear to think of her faithful ser- 12 • m a r k t wa i n — a n d s a m ’ s w o m e n vice as self-sacrificing. She loved the Clemens family as if they were “my own people,” her telling phrase. “[T]hey was just as considerate of me as they was of one of themselves,” she affirmed.

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