Mark Twain’s Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years

Written by Laura Trombley
Review by Wisteria Leigh

Mark Twain wanted his biography published without a doubt. He also wanted to have total control over the image of the man people would read about and therefore went to great lengths to protect his reputation. So, how do we know the real Mark Twain?

Mark Twain’s Other Woman is about the writer’s later years between 1900 and 1910 and his personal relationship with his secretary, Isabel Van Kleek Lyon. Trombley, a college professor, has written two other books about Twain and has sifted through a vast array of primary documents that include personal letters, notes and diary entries. Through interviews and reading the daily reminders written by Isabel Van Kleek Lyon, the author has put together a chronology of Twain’s life, a portrait of the man he and his family hoped would never come to light.

This is an engaging and at times shocking look at Mark Twain, his relationship with his secretary Van Kleek Lyon and his daughters. It will be easy to overlook slow-moving passages that are burdened by the author’s research findings. Trombley’s evaluation and interpretation about this unconventional yet respected iconoclast in American literature will offer an irresistible and controversial read.