A Sign of Her Own
January 13, 2024

Book Review

A Sign of Her Own

A Sign of Her Own illuminates the life of Alexander Graham Bell, particularly his development of Visible Speech for the deaf-mute community. The narrative revolves around the fictional Ellen Lark, who, after losing her hearing to scarlet fever, becomes Bell’s star pupil.

Her journey, interwoven with Bell’s quest for his invention’s patent, is skillfully depicted through a dual timeline, highlighting her life and perceived betrayal by Bell.

The tale commences with Bell, now an inventor, arriving in England. He seeks Ellen’s assistance in promoting Visible Speech. This request unsettles Ellen, as her husband is unaware of their full history. This complexity deepens when Ellen is asked to mediate a dispute over the rightful ownership of the Telephone patents, a testament to her close association with Bell’s work.

Ellen’s auditory challenges began at age four. In an era when sign language was undervalued, her mother was adamant about her learning an alternative communication method. Consequently, Ellen attended an Oral School and later continued her education under Professor Bell at Boston University, a prominent figure in deaf-mute education.

Within the constraints of society, Ellen had limited exposure to sign language. In a world tailored for the hearing, such forms of communication were deemed inferior. Ellen excelled in lip-reading, a skill that earned her considerable recognition.

At Bell’s school, sign language was strictly prohibited; his focus was on developing vocal skills and speech reading, confidences he shared with Ellen. He also advocated the use of notebooks as an effective communication tool.

Ellen’s reunion with Bell stirs internal conflict. She feels betrayed by his contribution to the telephone, believing it undermined the deaf community. Revealing the truth jeopardizes not only her engagement and future security but also conflicts with her mother’s dying wishes.

The narrative vividly captures the era’s patent frenzy and societal attitudes towards deaf individuals. Ellen’s experiences underscore the isolation caused by communication barriers. The story questions the disregard for the preferences of the deaf community, highlighting the tiring nature of lip-reading and the effectiveness yet societal rejection of sign language.

Narrated with eloquence, A Sign of Her Own explores the protagonist’s dilemma and decision-making, presenting a compelling story that sheds light on the era’s conflicting circumstances.

A Sign of Her Own is available at:

More Historical Suspense


Historical Suspense Features