This novel-in-verse tells the fascinating story of Annie Taylor, who, in 1901, became the first person to plunge over the brink of Niagara Falls in a barrel. But as Joan Murray reveals, America didn’t know what to do with a mature and self-possessed heroine: Annie Taylor, as an ‘older woman,’ was rejected and exploited and finally eclipsed by the man who repeated her stunt ten years later.
A portrait of a woman so achingly intimate it will linger long in your memory. —Joyce Carol Oates
“[A] superb book-length poem, Queen of the Mist tells a story about the quest for fame, the cruelties of discrimination and the vagaries of the American dream. . . . [A]n eminently readable, rhythmic narrative that crackles with candor and wry sagacity. I read this in one sitting.” —Jan Worth, Detroit Free Press
“Joan Murray’s engrossing account of Annie Taylor—the teacher who in 1901, at the age of 63, was the first person to shoot the falls—is just as imaginative as the quest narratives of poetic tradition.” —Robert Taylor, The Boston Globe
“Testament to the surprise and beauty that poetry can still be. . . . Murray [has] an admirable dedication to the epic drama, the rhythms, the sounds of poetry. . . . [B]ut what is truly striking is the way she has transformed the forgotten figure of Annie Taylor into an augur of the age to come.” —Justin Coffin, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Establish[es] Murray as a major feminist voice working in a dramatic mode. . . . Taylor’s preparations, her inner motivations and the plunge itself are all movingly rendered.” —Publishers Weekly
“[A] quintessentially American epic. . . . In form, structure, language, narrative, it is wonderful.” —Gerald Stern, National Book Award winner