Helen Keller in Love

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
“Debut novelist Rosie Sultan’s Helen Keller in Love spins a tale of forbidden love, invoking scents, textures and tastes on every page to show how Helen ‘saw’ the world. She grounds the story in well-known incidents from Helen’s childhood, but draws on later biographies, speeches and letters to show Helen as a woman, intelligent and determined but forced by her handicaps to be dependent on her family and employees. . . . Sultan skillfully expresses Helen's main frustrations: at the public for refusing to take her seriously when she speaks on political issues unrelated to blindness, and at her family and friends for refusing to see her as a grown woman, with a woman’s desires. Helen Keller in Love holds readers’ attention with a fresh depiction of a woman famous for overcoming her physical handicaps, forced to fight for her right to love.” —Katie Noah Gibson, Shelf Awareness
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670023493
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/26/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosie Sultan earned her MFA at Goddard College and won a PEN Discovery Award for fiction. A former fellow at the Virginia Center for the Arts, she has taught writing at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Suffolk University. She lives with her husband and son in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Great book, great story - fast and enjoyable...

    I really enjoyed this book because it made for a nice quick summer read that was fascinating and enjoyable. I really enjoy biographies, but this book was interestingly based on assumptions brought about by little known facts of an affair Helen Keller had. Great writing, good depiction of characters and an interesting twist on what you may not have known about Helen Keller.

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  • Posted July 13, 2012

    This is a truly remarkable book and I encourage you to read it.

    This is a truly remarkable book and I encourage you to read it. There are a variety of ways this work touched me and I think there is something for everyone in it. I will admit, when I first heard the title I was prone to silly and flippant comment, due to my ignorance of this moving and TRUE story. But now I am so glad I did read it. It is a great love story, a sad tale of resilience and acceptance, an absolutely fascinating exploration into what the minute to minute sensory life of this remarkable person (HK) was like, and a portal into a time when the world was growing up. One of the recent reviews of this great book actually thought it was a novel, but the fact is (I heard Dr. Sultin read in Brookline MA) that this is a super-well researched historical novel, and really more a sensory and emotional treatment of an historical event. There are a TON of books written about Helen Keller, for good reason, but the fact that this powerful, true and moving part of her life has mostly been ignored (till now) is a gaping and indicative hole in the Helen Keller narrative. Also, definitely go hear a reading of this book by the author. I live in California, but was lucky enough to be in the Boston area during a reading. It is almost like a seminar in the emotional and historical context of the Helen Keller story.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    In Rosie Sultan’s debut historical fiction novel she tell


    In Rosie Sultan’s debut historical fiction novel she tells a tale of a very brief love affair that Helen Keller kept very private. Although there is little known about the relationship between Helen and Peter Fagan the author imagines a very believable story. This is only a love story on the surface; underneath there’s a disturbing vision of the people close to Helen. Those people demand attention and control making her dependent to the point of helplessness. This becomes clear to her as her relationship with Peter deepens. Choosing between the love she desperately desires and the need of those around her becomes an emotional drama.
    I love it when a novel awakens a desire in me to learn more. This was an emotional rollercoaster of a read for me. I didn’t want to dislike some of the characters, but I was so invested in the story that I couldn’t help myself. The flow and the pacing of the story were great and I found myself wishing that I could just sit down and read it through. Even though I know a few things about Helen Keller the author was so convincing that I had hope that it would end differently. I have no problem recommending this book.

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  • Posted May 4, 2012

    “Helen Keller in Love” by Rosie Sultan is a story ab

    “Helen Keller in Love” by Rosie Sultan is a story about Helen Keller when she was 36 years old and her love affair with her secretary, Peter Fagan. It is told through the voice of Helen Keller. The target audience for this book is young adults/adults.

    Reading the synopsis of this book really intrigued me. Helen Keller really was an amazing woman who overcame incredible obstacles and her story deserves to be told. Usually we are only told the story of the childhood of Helen Keller, but this book takes us directly into her adult life.

    Helen’s companion, since the time she was 7 years old, was Anne Sullivan. Anne Sullivan continued to be Helen’s main companion and interpreter until her death, I believe. This story illustrates that Anne was a bit controlling and she completely tried to dissuade Helen from ever pursuing a romantic relationship. Helen’s mother had the same agenda also. When Anne is diagnosed with tuberculosis, she is forced to bring in another person to be Helen’s secretary until she can get better. Thus, in comes Peter Fagan. Helen is immediately drawn to Peter Fagan. I don’t see why she was unless it was because he was the first non-related male she came into close contact with and the thrill of that made Helen pursue him. Peter immediately takes to Helen and they begin a secret romance.

    Although this book was told with Helen as the narrator, I sometimes forgot that she was deaf or blind. How did she know of conversations that didn’t include her? Sometimes the author would allude to sounds such as “…crossed the room in a sslap-sslap-sslap of her bare feet.” I guess it could mean what the vibrations felt like, but to me it came across more as what it sounded like rather than felt like. But this is just a minor issue. Helen Keller must have been very lonely and really wanted to have independence, which would be impossible since she had to rely on someone for everything such as picking out her clothes or telling her what was going on in the world. This book highlights her loneliness and her dependence on Anne Sullivan. The relationship with Peter seemed rushed and a little unrealistic, but perhaps that was the way it really was.

    We never think about what Helen’s life was like after childhood and this book was an interesting peek into her adult life. There were some minor issues with the story that I didn’t like, but overall it was a good read and I learned some really interesting things about Helen and Anne and what life must have been like for both of them… they both depended on and needed each other. Was this detrimental or instrumental to their relationship? That is up to the reader to decide.
    **This book was received for free through Goodreads First Reads. That in no way influenced my review.**

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