An immersive piece of historical fiction, Sarah Marsh’s A Sign Of Her Own provides a spotlight on the deaf community and the different methods of communication that were encouraged by the inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Its story centres around Ellen Lark, who lost her hearing aged four through illness; having spent time learning sign language, Ellen embraces a new challenge, attempting to learn visible speech.
With a sponsor in place, she moves to Boston, living with her grandmother while she embarks on lessons of visible speech developed by Alexander Graham Bell. Simultaneously she becomes acquainted with the deaf community in the area, forming a close friendship with a printer named Frank. As time progresses, the inventor’s intentions and lack of understanding are questioned, while links between the different people in Ellen’s life become apparent and her loyalty is pulled in different directions.
A Sign Of Her Own’s plot development works well with the dual timeline of the past and the present, even if it would have been beneficial to see further developments to the ending, and Ellen’s future. Despite this, the story provides insight into the challenges of the deaf community, considering the expectations of society during the 19th century, and formidable achievements in communication. A fascinating and emotive outlook on a significant period of history.
A Sign Of Her Own, Sarah Marsh (Tinder Press)
Price: £18.99/£24.99 audiobook. Info: here
words RHIANON HOLLEY