What is Visible: A Novel
Laura Bridgman was the first deaf and blind person to learn language-fifty years before Helen Keller. Laura also couldn't taste or smell; she lost all senses but touch from a bout with scarlet fever at age two. Not since The Diving Bell and the Butterfly has a book so illuminated the challenges of living in a completely unique inner world. WHAT IS VISIBLE moves among multiple voices, with Laura as the book's primary narrator; the founder of Perkins Institute, with whom Laura was in love; his wife, a famous writer, abolitionist and suffragist; Laura's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an orphaned Irish girl with whom Laura had a tumultuous affair; and even the young Helen Keller. At the center of it all is the breathtaking experiment that Laura Bridgman embodied and its links to the great philosophical, theological, educational and social changes taking place between 1840 and 1890. Since Laura was considered the second most famous woman in the world in the nineteenth century (second only to Queen Victoria), it is astonishing that she has been virtually erased from history. WHAT IS VISIBLE will set the record straight.
"An affecting portrait which finally provides its idiosyncratic heroine with a worthy voice." ""Kirkus Reviews"""
Kimberly Elkins was a finalist for the National Magazine Award and has published fiction and nonfiction in the "Atlantic," "Best New American Voices," "Iowa Review," "Chicago Tribune," "Glamour," and "Village Voice," among others. WHAT IS VISIBLE is her first novel.