A captivating novel that explores the little-known romance of a beloved American icon.
Helen Keller has long been a towering figure in the pantheon of world heroines, yet the enduring portrait of her in the popular imagination comes from The Miracle Worker, which ends when Helen is seven years old.
Rosie Sultan’s debut novel imagines a part of Keller’s life she rarely spoke of or wrote about: the man she once loved. When Helen is in her 30s and Annie Sullivan is diagnosed with tuberculosis, a young man steps in as a private secretary. Peter Fagan opens a new world to Helen, and their sensual interaction—signing and lip-reading with hands and fingers—quickly sets in motion a liberating, passionate, and clandestine affair. It’s not long before Helen’s secret is discovered and met with stern disapproval from her family and Annie. As pressure mounts, the lovers plot to elope, and Helen finds herself caught between the expectations of the people who love her and her most intimate desires.
Richly textured and deeply sympathetic, Sultan’s highly inventive telling of a story Keller herself would not tell is both a captivating romance and a rare glimpse into the mind and heart of an inspirational figure.
If you could sum up Helen Keller in Love in three words, what would they be?
It is a beautifully written story. It is a portrayal of her life, personality and the one powerful love affair she had in her most illustrious life. It is very heart warming. This accounting makes it clear that powerful, caring and loving people are not absent of passions and our sweet Helen Keller is no exception. You want her to have love, yet you sympathise with those around her that want to protect her. They are all at risk of hurting her in a profound heart wrenching way. Yet, there is a lot of humor between Peter and Helen. This helps lighten the intensity of what these two lovers are up against. The humor in this lovely telling adds a nice color to the love, sadness and confusion Helen experiences. Worth the listen!
What other book might you compare Helen Keller in Love to and why?
I thought of Song of the Wind and Anne Karenina.
What does Christine Williams bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
She reads it well.
Who was the most memorable character of Helen Keller in Love and why?
Peter and Annie are very powerful and believable characters. You sympathise with both points of view. As a reader you cannot judge either one. It is a great story.
Any additional comments?
Rosie Sultan does a superb job here.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I listened to it through bluetooth from my phone to my radio. Repetition of words when the story switched from section to section was irritating.