The Grammarians (Large Print / Library Binding)

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Staff Reviews

Cathleen Schine’s latest plays on the themes of earlier books - like The Three Weissmanns of Westport, it’s a sister story, and like Fin and Lady, it’s steeped in a nostalgic New York of a slightly earlier time. And it’s filled with the sparkling writing that we’ve come to know in her previous novels, but this time she takes it to another level, even opening each chapter with a definition from Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, the very same Johnson who is the subject of our store’s namesake biography. Daphne and Laurel Wolfe, in a way, represent two versions of the dictionary itself, one the descriptive poet and the other the prescriptive columnist, and it’s a mark of nurture over nature that Schine chronicles what led to this uncrossable divide, like Manhattan and Brooklyn when the subways are down. So many authors of late are fascinated by what drives sisters apart – if you interpreted life by reading novels, you’d think that by adulthood, it was rare to find two siblings in communication. And yet, as this is clearly a parlor comedy with definite Laurie Colwin-esque vibes, we know that there will one day be a bridge. But even if there wasn’t one, I’d just as soon be stranded in the East River, as long as I had The Grammarians to keep me company.

— Daniel Goldin


An enchanting, comic love letter to sibling rivalry and the English language.

From the author compared to Nora Ephron and Nancy Mitford, not to mention Jane Austen, comes a new novel celebrating the beauty, mischief, and occasional treachery of language.

The Grammarians are Laurel and Daphne Wolfe, identical, inseparable redheaded twins who share an obsession with words. They speak a secret �twin� tongue of their own as toddlers; as adults making their way in 1980s Manhattan, their verbal infatuation continues, but this love, which has always bound them together, begins instead to push them apart. Daphne, copy editor and grammar columnist, devotes herself to preserving the dignity and elegance of Standard English. Laurel, who gives up teaching kindergarten to write poetry, is drawn, instead, to the polymorphous, chameleon nature of the written and spoken word. Their fraying twinship finally shreds completely when the sisters go to war, absurdly but passionately, over custody of their most prized family heirloom: Merriam Webster�s New International Dictionary, Second Edition.

Cathleen Schine has written a playful and joyful celebration of the interplay of language and life. A dazzling comedy of sisterly and linguistic manners, a revelation of the delights and stresses of intimacy, The Grammarians is the work of one of our great comic novelists at her very best.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781432871291
ISBN-10: 1432871293
Large Print: Yes
Publisher: Thorndike Press Large Print
Publication Date: November 27th, 2019
Language: English