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Souls Alive by Judith Gelber

Souls Alive

by Judith Gelber

276 pages
Helen Bender, suddenly widowed, is a woman in crisis.

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About the Book
Recently widowed after a very brief marriage to a man she now realizes she hardly knew, Helen Bender must decide whether to remain where her husband's death has left her and begin a new life, or return to New York City and pick up the pieces of her former life with the help of her overbearing sister.

As Helen mulls her options at the Christmas tea at Perkins College, however, she sees the tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious new visiting professor of English, Frederic Isham Grenville. She learns that his teaching credentials are impeccable, but his personal background is unknown. One faculty wife likens him to Heathcliff. Helen thinks he is more like Jane Eyre's Mr. Rochester.

Adding to the new professor's mystery is his sudden keen interest when introduced to Helen as the grieving widow of the recently deceased Karl Bender. Furthermore, Grenville quickly induces Helen to leave the tea with him and allow him to accompany her on her walk home. Coincidentally, he has rented a house not far from Helen. He also asserts that he knew the late Karl Bender before his marriage to Helen, further complicating the question of why he has chosen to come to this small college in rural Pennsylvania.

Vulnerable and lonely, Helen becomes infatuated with Grenville, who quickly seduces her and then just as quickly appears to reject any further relationship with her. Helen, humiliated, flees to New York where she and Grenville happen to meet again. However, just as they are about to resume their relationship on a firmer footing after the false start, Harry Horn appears, claiming a long friendship with Grenville's family. Helen laughs when Grenville irritably introduces Horn as Mephistopheles. Horn explains Grenville's introduction: "It's because I devil him so." Helen is captivated by this delightful, quintessential Englishman.

Helen returns to Pennsylvania and once more begins a romance with Grenville. But as the couple draw closer together, Harry Horn reappears. This time, however, rather than charm and delight Helen, Horn creates an unnatural experience meant to frighten Helen away and separate the couple permanently. Helen, however, is now aware of Grenville's terrible secret that he shares with Harry Horn. Her choice is either to desert Grenvile and leave him to the mercies of Horn, or risk her own soul by staying with Grenville and their burgeoning love for each other. Grenville, though, is determined to leave Helen behind as he fulfills his destiny begun many years ago.



About the Author
Judith Gelber has spent much of her life in education as a student, teacher, and educational journalist. Her first book, "Schools That Work," was based on her weekly newspaper column, "Teacher's Notebook." But her lifelong desire was to write fiction. Her first novel,"Sophie," is now followed by Souls Alive.



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