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A Reader of Fictions: Midnight Confessions - The Grass Roots

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Midnight Confessions - The Grass Roots

Helen Keller in Love

Author: Rosie Sultan
Pages: 239
Review Copy Acquired from: Penguin

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "I wait under a night sky pocked with stars I cannot see."

Besides the obvious, I really know very little about Helen Keller. What little else I know comes solely from a book report I did on The Miracle Worker in third grade. So yeah, I'm not exactly a font of knowledge on Helen Keller. The book appealed to me largely because of the historical fiction aspects. Historical fiction, when well done, is a beautiful thing, and one of my favorite genres.

Thankfully, Helen Keller in Love has been quite well done, or so I feel. I did some very limited research on Helen Keller (aka Google search) just to verify some of the basic facts, although I also could have read the Afterword first. I wanted to know, most of all, whether Peter Fagan was a real person, and whether this actually happened (unlike Becoming Jane). The answer is yes. Of course, the conversations and some of the finer details are a fiction. I just always like to have a decent idea of what is fiction and what is history, so that I don't walk around spouting 'facts' that are untrue.

What I liked most about Helen Keller in Love was most certainly the writing. Rosie Sultan's prose is beautiful. Her sentences aren't generally especially complex, but I love her diction and syntax. Her descriptions of what it might have been like to be Helen Keller, to hear through touch rather than sound, to imagine colors when you've never seen them, were breathtaking.

Most of all, the book, told from Helen's perspective, made me really truly try to imagine what her life was like in a way that just learning about her did not. She has such strength to have been able to live such a life. It's utterly sad how limited her life still remained though, a fact generally lost in the midst of the miracle.

I highly recommend Helen Keller in Love for lovers of well-written historical fiction or for those who like to think about the world from a different perspective.

Rating: 4/5

Favorite Quote: "I sat taller, to suppress my impatience. It was infuriating, this waiting. I was thirty-seven years old. And like a child, an infant, really, I was at the mercy of others. Hour after hour of my life was spent waiting."

"The sound of your footsteps
Telling me that you're near
Your soft gentle motion, baby
Brings out the need in me that no-one can hear, except

In my midnight confessions

When I tell all the world that I love you
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Blogger Owl In A Cloak said...

I really want to read this book! Recently, I've come to know a lot about since I'm mentoring a differently abled kid at school and Helen is sort of his hero(ine?). The book sounds amazing! I may even get one copy for the kid (who I'm mentoring) but I think he's a little too young...haha

April 23, 2012 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Owl In A Cloak said...

Also, I think this will be my first historical fiction.....

April 24, 2012 at 12:01 AM  
Blogger Veronica W. said...

"angel of Blyther Hall" was a very good read. Historical mixed with the paranormal :)

April 25, 2012 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger Angela - Bookaunt said...

I am a big historical fiction fan. Some of my favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory

May 3, 2012 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Wendy Newcomb said...

Would love to read more about Helen Keller, what an inspiration.


May 3, 2012 at 3:24 PM  

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