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April 23, 2012

W!n Helen Keller in Love

When I posted I received Helen Keller in Love in my mailbox a few weeks ago several people expressed interested in it. Well, here is your chance to win a copy.

Helen Keller in Love by Rosie Sultan
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 2012 by Viking
ISBN13: 9780670023493
Find it: Goodreads, IndieBound, Powell's Books, Amazon 


A captivating novel that explores the little-known romance of a beloved American iconHelen 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.


“With empathy, imagination, and vivid sensory detail, Rosie Sultan’s HELEN KELLER IN LOVE gives voice—and scent and touch—to an iconic American heroine during a little known chapter in her life.”

—Jane Mendelsohn, author of I Was Amelia Earhart

“In this richly imagined and moving novel, Rosie Sultan brings alive the history of Helen Keller—the brilliant, miraculous creature who stole the heart and sympathy of the world—while also exploring how she must have felt as a woman: the loneliness, longing and great vulnerability. The result is a vivid, sensuous portrait full of sound and vision.”

—Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes

“HELEN KELLER IN LOVE is involving, passionate, and deeply felt. It tells this little-known, remarkable story with a loving heart, beautiful language, and great commitment to its heroine. Helen Keller was a woman with blood in her veins—this book makes you feel it.”

—Martha Southgate, author of The Taste of Salt

About the Author:

Rosie Sultan earned her MFA at Goddard College and won a PEN Discovery Award for fiction, on the nomination of historian Howard Zinn. A former fellow at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, she has taught writing at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Suffolk University in Boston. Her short story "Blue is Your Color, Dear" appeared in Other Voices. She lives with her husband and son in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Visit Rosie Sultan online 

Q&A with Rosie Sultan:

What triggered your interest in Helen Keller's life, particularly her private life?
I've always been fascinated by Helen Keller. I read my first book about her when I was in the third grade, and I've read almost everything about her since. A few years ago I read a new biography of Helen: toward the book;'s end a short chapter - maybe six pages long- said she had a love a affair at age thirty-seven with a twenty-nine year old journalist from Boston. I couldn't believe that Helen Keller had a secret love affair; I couldn't believe she had defied her family and tried to run away with him and I couldn't believe the chapter that told that story was six pages long! I put the book down and said, "There's story here. I'm going to tell it."

In conducting your research in Helen Keller, her family, and inner circle, did you come across any places or documents that were particularly noteworthy? Or, say...shocking?
Yes, absolutely. I found some articles in the New York Times that surprised me because in them Helen protested the United States entering World War One. In biographies I found that the public who attended her speeches against the war revered her courage. They mobbed her after her speeches and even took the flowers off her hat. Other surprises were that at the turn of the century Helen supported Margaret Sanger and the use of birth control and she gave her support to the NAACP. Her southern family was scandalized.

Helen is a very independent thinker, yet, based on her disabilities, she's very dependent on those around her. What was it like writing a character with such a complex dynamic?
What was it like to write about her? It was thrilling. I discovered that she's not the person we all thought we knew. I got to bring to life her many dimensions: Helen was a public figure, an author, a daughter, a sister, an activist. And I go to bring alive her secret desire for love.


Viking is giving away a hardcover copy to 1 lucky reader of Girl Who Reads. It can only be sent to a US or Canada address. 

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  1. I've always been fascinated by Helen Keller as well! I'd love to read this book.

  2. I think this sounds really interesting -- and as to Helen having a love affair/interest? Why not? She was a woman too, and just because she couldn't see her Man's face or hear his voice doesn't mean she shouldn't/couldn't be able to love... :o)

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  3. I'd love to win this book. Alas, I don't live in North America. Darn this infernal globe!

  4. Awesome, I've always been interesting in Helen Keller. Thanks for the giveaway :)

  5. What do you think about Helen Keller having a secret love affair?

    I think it's great, she deserves to be in love just as much as everyone else! :)

  6. Helen Keller love affair. Quite likely really. She was able to do many things that seemed impossible. A love affair would have been relatively easy.

  7. This sounds like a great book and I have to say any book with love affair tends to be good I wonder how the story will unfold!

  8. I would say good for her.

  9. So sad she wasn't allowed to get married and become independent of the controlling (but beloved)Annie. She got on with her life anyway--another reason to admire her.

  10. Sounds like a very exciting read and something I would so be interested in reading. When I had to do school reports that were my choice I would do them on Helen Keller, Anne Frank or Shakespeare. I love to learn more about them. Thank you for doing such a great give away.

  11. I am intrigued by the story of Helen Keller having a secret love.