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About the book
Sultan, fascinated by Helen Keller since she was eight years old, was inspired by a brief note found in the Helen Keller Archives at the American Foundation for the Blind in a file labeled “Peter Fagan.” The note, from Fagan’s grown daughter, read: “I remember my father…showing us a lovely photograph of you, and beneath it a penciled note in your handwriting…I would certainly appreciate it very much if you remember him and would care to send me whatever recollections you have of him.” Helen never wrote back.
Helen Keller in Love begins when Helen is in her thirties and Annie Sullivan falls too ill to keep up with their grueling schedule on the lecture circuit. Annie’s estranged husband, John Macy, sends a young, ambitious reporter named Peter Fagan to step in as Helen’s private secretary. Their interactions—signing into hands and lip-reading with hands and fingers—soon blossoms into the full-fledged romance for which Helen has long yearned.
Finally liberated from the physical and moral constraints she has been forced to live under, Helen and Peter find their affair met with stern disapproval from both Annie and Helen’s family. With Helen already struggling to maintain crowds at her events and cash in her accounts, her new relationship ratchets up tension between those she holds most dear, most keenly with Annie Sullivan, the guide who led her journey from darkness to light.