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Cleaving Twain


The public conception of Mark Twain is most certainly that of the bushy-mustached raconteur who could spin off both sharp witticisms and trenchant social satire with ease. Despite his big-hearted and comical stories, Twain was a man given to private grief — both at the death of his young son and, later, the loss of his wife Olivia after 34 years of marriage. Now, scholar Laura Skandera Trombley fills in the missing years in Twain's story in Mark Twain's Other Woman: The Hidden Story of His Final Years. Trombley uncovers the story of Isabel Lyon, the woman who became Twain's nurse, manager and confidant in his final years. The two had a bitter parting, and Lyon's involvement with the author has been all but stripped from Twain's biographies. At 7 p.m. tonight Trombley will be at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue) to read from her book and tell Lyon's side of the story. For more information, call 314-367-6731; admission is free, and copies of the book will be available for purchase.
Tue., March 30, 2010