Author: Rosie Sultan
Hardbound: 256 pages
Publisher: Viking Adult (April 26, 2012)
Note: I received a review copy of this book free from the publisher, Viking Adult. The review posted below is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.
This is a novel based on Helen Keller's life. Though based on true story, the author wove a tale about Ms. Keller's life with the man she once loved, Peter Fagan.
It's been a while since the last time I read something based on a true story. I knew Ms. Keller's life story but nothing about her man, Peter Fagan. I didn't know she never married or maybe that part was intentionally omitted in history. Based on what I understand in the story, her teacher and her mother thought a disabled person (she was deaf and blind) should not marry. Poor Ms. Keller, never had the chance to experience having a family of her own.
While the story is interesting, I had issues concerning with the author's tale about Ms. Keller's life. Her instant attraction to Peter Fagan and "playful" dialogue made it seem unbelievable. The dialogue seemed too vulgar, highly unlikely to be her in my opinion. The book is narrated by Ms. Keller but often I get confused on the dialogue of some of the characters in the book. She was deaf and blind but in the book, it's like she can hear about all conversations going on around her. The flow of the story is continuous, most of the time I would forget that she's deaf and blind. And then when I remember it, I would be confused with the whole narration. It was a challenging story to write for the author, but I have to admit that since this was my first time to read something with a deaf and blind character, there were too much complications in reading this.
About the book:
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 is 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 thirties 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 interactions—signing and lip-reading with hands and fingers—quickly set 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 is 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.
About the author:
Rosie Sultan won a PEN Discovery Award for fiction. She earned her MFA at Goddard College and was a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has taught writing at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Suffolk University. She lives with her husband and son outside of Boston, Massachusetts.