Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fiction Tuesday- Helen Keller in Love

Who would have thunk it? Could it possibly be? This is an interesting take on this real person's life. Of course, it is fiction..but just imagine..if you can..

BOOK DESCRIPTION:  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.

Yet there is a lot of reality and truth to the story.

Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that ‘plagiarism’ farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men — but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington’s battle, in some degree, and we call it his; but there are others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing — and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite — that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.
Mark Twain to Helen Keller—Keller had been accused (and acquitted) of plagiarizing a short story several years prior.

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.
Helen Keller

"Keller archives that hold a wealth of letters, newspaper articles, and photos that document Helen's life. All the while I searched for clues to this secret love affair with two questions in my mind: What was it like for Helen to be in love? And why couldn't she marry?
I quickly learned that from the time Helen was young, she preferred men to women. Even as a child, if a man came to the house Helen would ask, "Do I look pretty?"
Yet Helen's family, her teacher, and most of the society around her in 1916, felt strongly that women with disabilities should not marry or have normal romantic desires." Rosie Sultan the author of Helen Keller in Love talks about her research about Helen and her family. "
The story of the romance as I tell it in Helen Keller In Love  is set against the backdrop of Helen's fascinating life story: her vocal protests against the United States' entry into World War I, her support of the NAACP and soldiers blinded by war, and her fight for women's rights, birth control, workers' rights, and the prevention of blindness.
In 1916, when Helen was in her thirties and world-famous, her teacher and companion, Anne Sullivan, fell terribly ill. Anne's estranged husband sent Peter Fagan, a twenty-nine year old Boston Herald reporter, to be Helen's private secretary. The pair quickly became infatuated. Peter rapidly learned the manual finger-spelling language. Soon he spelled the content of letters, newspaper articles, and books into Helen's open palm. In close contact with a man for the first time in her life -- a man who shared her passion for politics, her zest for life -- Helen felt alive, awake. The couple fell in love."-Rosie Sultan (From Helen Keller's Secret Love Life)

Honestly, the book is captivating from the first paragraph.-ellie

“Rosie Sultan is adventurous—and brave. She has immersed herself in every available piece of information about Keller and, to an amazing degree, puts herself into her heroine’s silent, dark world. Sultan looks within, telling Helen’s story in the first person. We are taken into the isolation and limitations that Keller lived with her entire life. . . . Helen Keller in Love is touching and fun to read. . . . Sultan has given the adult Helen Keller a new voice and reminds us of both her brilliance and her humanity.”
The Washington Post

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.-Randolph


Helen Keller's Secret Love Life


Cafe Fashionista said...

I find Helen Keller to be one of the most inspiring people in history. I MUST check out this book!! :)

Sara Gerard said...

Wow, this seems like something I would really love to read! Thanks for sharing!

lucy and sarah said...

Oh, I think this would be a cool read.

MOSAMUSE said...

this seems so interesting!!