BookBrowse Reviews The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

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The Dictionary of Lost Words

by Pip Williams

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams X
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
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  • Published:
    Apr 2021, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Inspired by the composition of the Oxford English Dictionary, this debut novel explores the lives of the women on its fringes through the words that were omitted.

Esme Nicoll grows up surrounded by words. Starting in 1886, her father works for Dr. James Murray, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. Since Esme's mother is dead, Dr. Murray and the rest of the staff look the other way whenever the girl accompanies her father to the Scriptorium — a grand word for what is actually a shed behind the Murrays' home in Oxford, England and not a place where inquisitive children would normally be welcome. Volunteers send in words to be defined and illustrative quotations to be compiled by the lexicographers. Esme sits on her father's lap and helps him open these letters. With one word per slip of paper, the Scriptorium is soon packed with evidence of hundreds of thousands of words.

Some get lost along the way, and others are purposely discarded. Five-year-old Esme rescues one from the floor. Sounding out the letters she recognizes, she deciphers ...

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