Publication Date: February 6, 2024
A mesmerizing tale of historical fiction that follows a deaf former student of Alexander Graham Bell as she learns to reclaim her own authentic voice.
Ellen Lark is on the verge of marriage when she and her fiancé receive an unexpected visit from Alexander Graham Bell. Ellen is deaf and for a time she was Bell’s student learning visible speech. During their lessons, Bell also confided in her about his dream of producing a device that would transmit the human voice along a wire: the telephone.
Now, on the cusp of wealth and renown, Bell wants Ellen to speak up in support of his claim to the patent of the telephone, which is being challenged by rival inventors. But Ellen has a different story to tell: that of how Bell betrayed her and other deaf pupils in pursuit of his own ambition. Ellen knows that this is her one opportunity to tell the true story—her story—but to do so will risk her engagement, her future prospects and her mother’s last wish for her.
Inspired by Alexander Graham Bell’s real deaf students, this stunning historical debut casts new light on the inventor and the invention that would forever change how we communicate.
Growing up, Ellen Lark didn’t let the deafness caused by scarlet fever prevent her from a happy childhood. However, her family encouraged her to attend a special school.
Eventually, she encountered a man deemed successful in the field of deaf-mute education who introduced her to the concept of visual speech. The man? None other than Alexander Graham Bell.
A Sign of Her Own, inspired by historical events, illustrates the divide between the deaf and hearing communities. Author Sarah Marsh delves into speech reading and the invention of the telephone in the late 19th century.
While the concept of the story is unique, the shift in time makes the storyline a bit challenging. With that said the interactions between Ellen and Frank add an interesting dynamic as he teaches her about the silent press.
A Sign of Her Own takes a piece of history and builds on it, ultimately giving it a fresh perspective.
Sarah Marsh was short-listed for the Lucy Cavendish Prize in 2019 and selected for the London Library Emerging Writers Programme in 2020. A Sign of Her Own is her first novel, inspired by her experiences of growing up deaf and her family’s history of deafness. She lives in London.