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Review: "They Say Love is Blind" by Kate Halleron

They Say Love Is Blind is available from the Girlebooks catalog.

Beatrice Palmer could never envision what that fateful train trip from Boston to San Francisco would engender; however, as a grandmother, she had already experienced her share of pain and sorrow, although much joy had come to her life as well. It was a long train trip in the late 1880's; thus one got to know one's fellow travelers in a way similar to shipboard interactions. Beatrice struck up a "trainboard" friendship with Henry Johnson. One could not call it a romance, but perhaps the next best thing.

Henry was traveling from the Perkins Institute (the famous school that trained Helen Keller) in Boston to San Francisco, where he would teach adults in a new program at the San Francisco School for the Blind. Formerly, only children had been taught how to manage in a sighted world, but as the Civil War had done its part to return many soldiers to their homes sightless, a demand for this type of adult education was ever-growing. Henry knew this because he was one of those soldiers who came home blind.

Beatrice was fascinated with the precise manner in which Henry managed his life, read Braille, and even beat her at chess. She was an avid student as he taught her the secrets of "writing" in Braille. As a widow, Beatrice was uncertain whether her affinity for Henry sprung from admiration or romantic feeling, but she was willing to let things go where they might, since her primary desire was the friendship of a kindred intellect.

On arrival in San Francisco, the idyllic trip ends when Beatrice discovers some uncomfortable truths about Henry's past. While Henry, Beatrice and the latter's family come to grips with their shocking discovery, they spend a Christmas together and try to act like a family, even if it is a most unusual one.

Kate Halleron is an excellent writer who demonstrates not only a facility for the English language but also a gripping storytelling talent. Like Portrait of the Past which is the prequel to this book, Halleron has come up with a truly unique situation and made it believable and entertaining. I was especially intrigued with the detail she used to describe the methods used by a blind person to handle everyday tasks and the process by which Braille is written.


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