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Annye Camara Advocates for James Sulzer

Annye Camara Advocates for James Sulzer Picture

In his book Writ in Water, James Sulzer has created a delightful frame for sharing the story of John Keats’ short life. In the book, we meet the poet in a “way station” somewhere above Rome. He has died at 25. Another spirit in the way station joins him, and the two of them view the joys and sorrows of Keats’ physical life. From above, they witness and talk about Keats' commitment to his poetry, for which he has abandoned his medical career. However, his family is not wealthy and when his mother dies, his dishonest uncle manages the family’s inheritance, impoverishing the young poet.

Keats becomes enamored with Fanny Brawne, and while she is in love with him, her family, also impoverished, needs the young woman to wed a man of means. The poet, forever in love with Fanny, continues his writing, even though his fragile health and modest means plague him his entire short life. One of his best known poems is "Ode to a Nightingale”.

Also in his physical life, Keats was a kind, honorable man. He and his spirit companion look at his courageous actions to help others in need, including a bird, whose life he saves, along with her three eggs.

The spirit is kind and helpful to Keats in their way station. As they continue to review Keats’ delights and disappointments, he frets that he has not had a successful life, not knowing the fame he sought in his lifetime. The gentle spirit has calming and wise words for Keats about his life and work. Keats comes to know his real worth.

What a terrific book this is! I was captivated reading James Sulzer’s ingenious novel, with an ending to satisfy any romantic!