Cover Image: The Dictionary of Lost Words

The Dictionary of Lost Words

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Overall, I am not positive how I feel about this book.  It is an interesting idea.  A female who realized some words are more important than others, and in many cases, this is based on gender.  Women's experiences and the words that go with them often go unrecorded by her father and his team of lexicographers.  As she realizes this, she begins collecting these words secretly for her own dictionary - The Dictionary of Lost Words..  This book is set when Women's Suffrage was at its height.  This book points out what can be lost when history/words/memories are only being collected by one group of people - in this case, white men.  We see this repeated throughout history as cultures, languages, and heritage are lost and forgotten. Esme recognizes this and does something about it.  I found the book to be a bit slow but still a fascinating read.
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Thanks for the ARC of The Dictionary of Lost Words!

This was unlike anything I’ve read! Esme works alongside her dad in a Scriptorium. Well technically she’s not supposed to be helping but she seems to always be fluttering around. The purpose of this place is to decide what goes in the dictionary! What a concept! I had never thought but before about the importance of words and how we get them. Esme saves some words that get tossed aside in a secret box. That itself was interesting enough. There’s a lot more to Esme's life though. She’s sent to a boarding school and battles a life without a mother. She has a friend, Lizzie, and an aunt that do their best to guide her. We follow her journey along a powerful period in time. This was not an era I knew a whole lot about. It was a lot to digest her life and the way things were alongside the building of the dictionary. 

I will say this story was slow moving and just wasn’t for me. It was a beautiful concept and well written. I know some people who would devour this. I also think it would be great to be adopted for high school literature classes! The creation of the Oxford English dictionary and words that have been discarded could be such a intellectual discussion. As a teacher I can think of a million projects and explorations that would come from this book!
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Thank you for the advance reader copy of this novel.  This novel was about the publication of a dictionary.    I loved the premise of it and the research about the Scrippy that went into the book.
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I had such a difficult time with the beginning of this novel because honestly, it was boring. Sitting on the floor of your fathers workplace is an endearing memory but it is intriguing to the reader. 

The story only starts picking up after Esme is sent away to school. Then, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. 

Overall, I don’t think the book’s description does the book justice. This story is so much more than the Dictionary of Lost Words. It is love, loss, life.
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I was so ecstatic to read this book. It sounded like it was absolutely perfect for me and checked off everything I want in a book. But although the premise and the start of the book were good, I struggled to even finish this, because the main character was so apathetic and utterly lacking in agency and personality. Then the story turned into this crawling misery-fest with Tess of the d'Ubervilles vibes of doom and desolation. I trudged on hoping desperately that the story would turn around and be inspiring. Unfortunately, it was a tedious slog through the end. I simply didn't care about the characters. And since this is an entirely character-driven story, there was nothing left to connect to. I'm heartbroken over how disappointing this story was.
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The history of this book was just fascinating and the concept was so strong. However the book itself dragged on slowly and occasionally painfully. I understand why it took on the long timeline, but it made it feel like it was trying to encompass too many large events while also adding in the main character’s personal life drama. However, I am glad I was able to learn a little bit of the interesting and often biased history of the Oxford English Dictionary. 
Thanks to NetGalley for the DRC.
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This has all of the characteristics I should enjoy: The people are warm and thoughtful, stuff happens, important stuff happens! (and is considered warmly, and thoughtfully...). But my God did this drag, unmercifully.
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I really enjoyed this book. IT took me a bit to get into it, but then it was smooth sailing after. I love the concept of the book, how really a lot of what we do and say depends on who framed our reference. Our language was framed by men, and Esme's story is a beautiful fictional representation of the dictionary process. Beautifully narrated and very heartwarning.
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Charming story of words and language. Brought me back to my Linguistics classes which I loved.  An enjoyable  read for all that are interested in the study and history of words - Etymology and Lexicology.  It is also a very interesting account of the history of The Oxford English Dictionary - emphasizing contributions from women which was frowned upon by men during the height of the women’s suffrage movement - it also broaches the variance of words that are used in the different class structures.  This novel is inspired by actual events around the inception of The Oxford English Dictionary - it is historical fiction at its finest - a beautifully written novel.  I will be following the author, Pip Williams, and looking forward to her next novel.
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Thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books & NetGalley for a digital advance reader copy. All comments and opinions are my own. #TheDictionaryofLostWords #NetGalley

An amazing book - worth every star and more. Don't let the topic of the origins of the Oxford English Dictionary put you off, this is far from a dry or boring read - I hated to put it down, but also didn't want to read it too fast and have it come to an end. It is as story of a romance between a woman and words, as well as between this same woman and a man. Beginning in 1901 when Esme is a young girl, the novel describes her coming-of-age as she works in the "Scriptorium" assisting with the compilation of the OED, of which her father is one of the lexicographers. Due to her inquisitiveness, Esme discovers words and their meanings that go beyond what is being incorporated in the OED. These "extra" words help her make sense of the world and she incorporates them to create her own "Dictionary of Lost Words."

Her word-building continues throughout her life, against the backdrop of the women's suffrage movement, World War I, and the morality of the time. I loved the way the author brought a personal perspective to these historical elements, through the viewpoints of memorable supporting characters who had close relationships with Esme.

This novel was often melancholy in tone, due to Esme's experiences. But that made it a richer and more thoughtful read. The author's research, including attention to the lifestyle details of the time period, was exceptional. I enjoyed reading in the "Author's Note" at the conclusion of the novel which characters were based on real people, and how the author came to write this novel. Also featured after the story is a timeline of major historical events and a timeline of the development of the Oxford English Dictionary.
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As a lover of words and reading I had high hopes for this book. I did enjoy it, but not as much as I would have liked. I loved the first half when Esme was a child and thought it was so interesting to learn about how the Oxford English Dictionary came to be. As Esme got older the tone of the book became a bit more dismal and I cared much less about Esme and the situations she had to deal with. I thought the pacing was a bit choppy and possibly too many issues thrown in. I thought it was just ok overall.
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I ebjoy Historical fiction and this book did not disappoint.  It follows the life of Esme and how she learns about the words from her father.  It gives you a new perspective of a dictionary.  As she grows up the novel follows her through the trails of life and leading to the Great War. Enjoyed this novel and would recommend.
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For some reason, I expected this to be a fantasy or at least contain some fantastical elements. Not sure where I got that from, but this is a straight up historical fiction novel which centers around the creation of the English language dictionary and the role of women in the early 1900s. Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I think it does hit on interesting feminist themes. It is also very sad and lyrical in places.
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Pip Williams' debut novel The Dictionary of Lost Words is a detailed narrative on the development of the Oxford English Dictionary, from the perspective of the fictional Esme and enhanced by historical facts. The OED was overwhelmingly developed by men, and Williams wanted a lens to imagine what that could mean for decisions that were made, both to include and exclude and the possible ramifications.

We witness Esme spend her life in proximity to the project, first through her father's employment and then her own merits, and she gravitates to the words that don't warrant inclusion; furthermore, she is inspired to collect and create her own dictionary of words in use by women.

It is clear that Williams lovingly researched the creation of the OED and the prevalent actors and, as she reveals in the acknowledgements, "I have made it up, but it is full of truth." Some liberties were taken to flesh out historical characters and imagine possible involvement, but Williams includes a detailed timeline of the project and offers what was fully historical, what was enhanced, and what is still unknown. It's a solid read for those with curiosity around the development of the dictionary as well as an imagination to consider the implications.

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)
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For me, although the era is different.  for Esme and many women the story remains the same.  Her position in her world, and that of other women who were part of history but overlooked in the telling of history.  I treasure my dictionary, yet never really thought about the time, effort and people behind its creation - or that fact of the male dominated creators.  The dictionary of lost words represents words relevant to women at the time, those that men didn't find worthy.
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Words. Women’s Words.  This is the story of both.  And yes, they were two separate groups according to the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary.

I was charmed and captivated with the first half of this story. Esme growing up surrounded, literally, by words. How they shaped her life, how she found comfort, joy and love in them. I loved the idea of Esme sitting under the table hoping for a falling scrap of paper, loved her relationship with Lizzie and her introduction to the Women’s Suffrage movement. 

When Esme framed certain words as Women’s Words and when she spoke of how they were received (or not), it brought actual tears to my eyes. I had to stop the audio and just sit with the thought of how much pain, anguish and struggle women have gone through to bring us the rights that we have today. And how there are still Women’s Words.  How we don’t own these words but we are defined by them, and usually not in a flattering light.  It resonates with me that we women still have so much to fight for – respect in the workplace, salary equivalency, body autonomy, freedom to live how we choose, I could go on and on and on. 

To say that the first half of this book touched a place deep inside of me is an understatement. 

The later part of the book however, felt very disconnected to me.  Esme floundered through her adult years of her life, in my opinion, not choosing sides, gathering important information but not doing anything with it, etc.  It seemed that those around her made more important efforts than she did, which makes her more of a side character in her own story, unfortunately.  The ending felt very rushed to me and left me feeling a little let down again, due in part to the lack of effort or activity from Esme in her own life. 

Overall, the book was interesting and definitely worth a read for Historical Fiction lovers, Women’s Suffrage movement interest or just lover of words.
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This book is a pleasant read. I requested it when I read the title. The idea of Lost Words is so powerful and the story doesn't disappoint. I loved the setting of the story and felt as if I was transferred to that place seeing the actions of the story before my eyes.
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I had never given much thought to words in the dictionary unless it was the slang words that have recently been added. The Dictionary of Lost Words was an interesting read on a topic that I knew nothing about. I also enjoyed the fiction woven into this history.
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Oh, this book - what a delight! Bibliophiles and logophiles alike will enjoy The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. This is a book about words and who gets to decide which words are recognized. It's set during the height of the women's suffrage movement, and readers meet motherless daughter Esme who grows up in her father's shadow at the Scriptorium where the first Oxford English Dictionary is being created. 

It's a book about class and culture and feminism wrapped up in a very interesting story with a fascinating cast of characters. This is one that will sit with me for a spell. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this one with me. All thoughts are my own.
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This book will charm history lovers and word nerds who get a kick out of strong female characters shaking up the status quo. Recommend to anyone after some good old escapism. 

This is brilliantly well- researched, detailed, refreshing journey emphasizing the importance of words, empowerment and raising the voices of women during the World War I with layered, impeccably crafted, memorable true characters who changed the world with their special and remarkable contributions. 

The first third is overwhelmingly slow but when you get into the story and lose yourself in the precious world of words, connecting with Esme and the preparation process of first Oxford dictionary, your curiosity takes over and you get more excited to learn more by becoming part of the world and linguistics. 

Esme is a little girl, creating herself a secluded universe at a garden shed of Oxford called “ Scriptorium”. Her invisible, unheard, unnoticed place was beneath the sorting table where his father and a loyal team of lexicographers work on collecting words for the first Oxford Dictionary.

One day, Esme finds a slip of paper fluttered on the floor. The word “bondmaid” is written on it. She hides the paper, stashing at Lizzie’s trunk. ( Lizzie is the maid working for them, raising her after her mother passed away) 

Later she finds other tossed slip of papers so stashing them is turning into her special game. Later she realizes each word she stashed relating with women unrecorded. That gives her idea to form her own dictionary consists of lost words mostly about women’s world! 

With the suffrage movement’s rising and Great War’s looming, a new history starts written itself with the unrecorded, abandoned, neglected words! 

It’s compelling, well- developed, great work enlighten us about the unknown pages of history and magical power of true words. 

I highly recommend it to historical fiction and based on real characters fiction fans. It’s quite informative, intense, realistic novel to read and absorb slowly.
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