November 11, 2015

Helen in Love by Rosie Sultan

Published November 26, 2013
Number of Pages 256

The astonishing and imaginative debut novel about Helen Keller and the man she loved

What comes to mind when you think of Helen Keller? Is it the deaf-mute wild child at the water pump outside her Tuscumbia, Alabama, home portrayed in The Miracle Worker or the adult activist for the rights of the disabled and women, the socialist who vehemently opposed war? Rosie Sultan’s debut novel imagines an intimate part of Keller’s life she rarely spoke or wrote about: her one and only love affair.

Peter Fagan, a reporter from Boston, steps in as her secretary when her companion Annie Sullivan falls ill. The world this opens up for her is not the stuff of grade school biographies. Their affair meets with stern disapproval from Annie and from Helen’s mother, and when the lovers plot to elope, Helen is trapped between their expectations and her innermost desires. Sultan’s courageous novel insists on Helen’s right to desire, to human frailty—to be fully and completely alive.

What did I think of this book
I enjoyed this book from the first page. The writing style made it very quick to read and easy to follow. I have been a fan of Helen Keller's for a long time so I was not sure if I would like a book written about here that is not 100% fact. But I have to say I did enjoy it and thought it very interesting to see a different side of Helen then what you usually hear about. I felt bad at times for Helen when Anne and her mother kept trying to push Peter away and tell Helen that he was not good for her. At the same time I understood why they were doing it. I liked how the story showed the relationship between Helen and her family including Anne. 

About the author
Rosie Sultan is a former fellow at the Virginia Center for the Arts and has taught writing at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Suffolk University. She lives outside Boston.

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