Book Reviews: The dictionary of Lost Words & The Winemakers Wife

The Dictionary of lost Words by Pip Williams

Goodreads blurb: Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the “Scriptorium,” a garden shed in Oxford where 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 to the floor. She rescues the slip, and when she learns that the word means slave-girl, she withholds it from the OED and begins to collect words that show women in a more positive light. 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 with the Great War looming, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. Based on actual events and combed from author Pip Williams’s experience delving into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary, this highly original novel is a delightful, lyrical, and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words and the power of language to shape the world.( This in an ARC book review, thanks to a gift from the publisher)

my take: 4 out of 5. 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.

The Winemakers Wife by Kristin Harmel

Goodreads blurb: Champagne, 1940: Inès has just married Michel, the owner of storied champagne house Maison Chauveau, when the Germans invade. As the danger mounts, Michel turns his back on his marriage to begin hiding munitions for the Résistance. Inès fears they’ll be exposed, but for Céline, half-Jewish wife of Chauveau’s chef de cave, the risk is even greater—rumors abound of Jews being shipped east to an unspeakable fate.

When Céline recklessly follows her heart in one desperate bid for happiness, and Inès makes a dangerous mistake with a Nazi collaborator, they risk the lives of those they love—and the champagne house that ties them together.

New York, 2019: Liv Kent has just lost everything when her eccentric French grandmother shows up unannounced, insisting on a trip to France. But the older woman has an ulterior motive—and a tragic, decades-old story to share. When past and present finally collide, Liv finds herself on a road to salvation that leads right to the caves of the Maison Chauveau.

My take: 3.75 out of 5. I really enjoyed this book, but given that I’ve been on a Kristin Harmel kick this year, is not as good as some of her others. I thought i would enjoy it more, because of the wine element, but it wasn’t as good. It is still a fabulously written historical fiction book and i highly recommend it. However in this take two things didn’t fully do it for me, i never totally connected to the character as in some of the other books (the emotional bond wasn’t as strong) and i could foresee some of the mysteries, which made it weirs that they kind of stretch it out so long. Nevertheless a wonderful addition if you want some more women in WWII stores.

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