The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams takes place in the early 1900s, telling the story of a girl who had spent her childhood with her father working on the first Oxford English Dictionary. Ms. Williams is a published author who wrote fiction, non-fiction, as well as travel books.
- 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593160193
- Publisher : Ballantine Books
- Language: : English
There is a lot to process in this book, women’s suffrage, World War I, the makings of a dictionary, parenthood, social structure, and the bias towards women among other themes. To me, however, books about books are always fascinating and I’m very glad I read this book.
What impressed me the most about The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams is the excellent and loving research that has gone into the writing of this novel. The author has managed to tie in multiple events, into the small world of the Scriptorium, imaging a story about the real-life omission of the word “bondmaid”, an embarrassing oversight which the editor Sir James Murray was still apologizing for decades later.
The novel is full of great characters, from Esme’s father, family, co-workers, and even her made and lifelong friend Lizzie. The reader sees the world through Esme’s eyes, a woman who wants to be more that what society will allow her to be, and takes up a good fight to prove her worth. Growing up Esme never thought about her class and gender, but once she was out on her own, even though comparatively privileged, she started to notice the exclusions in society, and the importance of words to do so.
Something we, in today’s charged climate, would be wise to remember.
If you love language, this book if for you. The novel, however, is not a difficult read. For it’s mature and important subjects it’s still a light read which can be enjoyed by anyone. The author takes care to define the words she uses and provide examples used at the time which the novel takes place.
Esme, a girl orphaned from her mother, spent her childhood with her father, a lexicographer working on the first Oxford English Dictionary. One day, Esme finds a slip of paper containing the word “bondmaid” on the floor, she takes it and keeps it.
As she grows up, Esme starts collecting words that did not make it into the dictionary, but are in common use in the streets, as well as related to ethe experience of women in the society. Now working on the dictionary in official capacity, Esme is putting together her own book of words that the lexicographers did not include.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
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