Book Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words
Pip Williams weaves a wonderfully whimsical story between real historical events.
Pip Williams debut novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, weaves a wonderfully whimsical story between real historical events. In between the writing of the first Oxford English Dictionary, the suffragette’s movement and World War 1, you’ll be introduced to characters plucked from the past and a few conjured from the mind of the author.
In this book, Williams imaginatively answers how the word “bondmaid” ended up being excluded from the Oxford English Dictionary - a discovery that was made in 1901. The result is a compelling story that follows Esme, the daughter of one of the lexicographers working on the dictionary, as she grows up surrounded by words and the meanings imposed upon them by men.
While the story moves with Esme as she grows from a child to an adult who collects words of her own, it asks pertinent questions relating to the meaning of words, how and why they change depending on context and on if a man or a woman uses it. Questions that I have grabbled with having dipped my toe into the world of linguistics and gender studies.
It’s an easy yet thought-provoking read with lots of lighthearted whimsy and a few tear-jerking moments that’ll keep you turning the page and wanting to read just a little bit more.
Have you read this book? If you have, please share your thoughts with me and whether or not you enjoyed it, in the comments below.