The Dictionary of Lost Words: A Novel

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • “Delightful . . . [a] captivating and slyly subversive fictional paean to the real women whose work on the Oxford English Dictionary went largely unheralded.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress.”—Geraldine Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of People of the Book

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, an Oxford garden shed in which her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Young Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word bondmaid flutters beneath the table. She rescues the slip and, learning that the word means “slave girl,” begins to collect other words that have been discarded or neglected by the dictionary men.

As she grows up, Esme realizes that words and meanings relating to women’s and common folks’ experiences often go unrecorded. And so she begins in earnest to search out words for her own dictionary: the Dictionary of Lost Words. To do so she must leave the sheltered world of the university and venture out to meet the people whose words will fill those pages.

Set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement and with the Great War looming, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. Inspired by actual events, author Pip Williams has delved into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell this highly original story. The Dictionary of Lost Words is a delightful, lyrical, and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words and the power of language to shape the world.

WINNER OF THE AUSTRALIAN BOOK INDUSTRY AWARD

From the Publisher

A Reese’s Book Club Pick;historical fiction;drama;best books for book clubs;books for womenA Reese’s Book Club Pick;historical fiction;drama;best books for book clubs;books for women

“Bondmaid” went missing from Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.“Bondmaid” went missing from Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Geraldine Brooks says, "A marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress.”Geraldine Brooks says, "A marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress.”

Susan Wiggs says, "Charming, inventive, and utterly irresistible.”;historical fiction;gifts for momSusan Wiggs says, "Charming, inventive, and utterly irresistible.”;historical fiction;gifts for mom

Marie Benedict says, "A compelling, fresh look at historical women!";reese's book club;book clubMarie Benedict says, "A compelling, fresh look at historical women!";reese's book club;book club

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House Publishing Group (May 3, 2022)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 416 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1984820745
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1984820747
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.13 x 0.82 x 8 inches

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