In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.
Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme seizes the word and hides it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
Our group thoroughly enjoyed this novel. We loved the descriptive writing, the historical perspective, the believable characters and the gentle, interesting way the emancipation of women was treated. We savoured the warmth of the relationships between families and women. It was a love story that involved people, places and language. The treatment of women’s suffrage ran throughout the story but we weren’t ‘hit over the head’ with it. We were connected to it in a subtle, sympathetic way as we observed it through the life of the main character and her observations of others and understanding of the use and meaning of words. Learning how the dictionary was compiled was also fascinating. A great read.
The words ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘painfully funny’ are on the cover of this book. These words resonated with us along with harrowing, crude and humourous. It’s the story of a commitment that turns from hope to sadness to burnout. We felt grateful for all that medicine provided but were sorry for the unseen personal cost to many of those who practised it. We came aware feeling more educated and aware of the realities of life as a young doctor and the running of the public medical system.
Read by MJ Readers
Lion A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Lion, by Saroo Brierley, is a very simplistic narrative relating the story of Saroo’s search for his birth mother. While the events of his young life were remarkable to those of us living in the western world, the writing of his story was not as gripping as one might imagine it should have been. It was no doubt a cathartic process for him to record it, but as a group we did not find it to be as powerful and emotive as we had hoped.
Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships … Welcome to the life of a junior doctor. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.
Adam Kay was a junior doctor working for the NHS (British Healthcare) before turning his hand to writing comedy. The book is full of snippets of diary entries that he kept from his time working as a junior doctor. While very British, with a few references some may not understand, this one had us laughing out loud and sharing stories one minute to holding back tear the next. We thoroughly enjoyed this one. And being mothers, we enjoyed the insight into an OBGYN ward. Wonderfully written with a new appreciation for all healthcare professionals.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her little problem taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the queen of spies, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth … no matter where it leads.
This month, two of our Dundas book clubs read and reviewed ‘The Things She Owned‘ by Katherine Tamiko Arguille and ‘The Surviors‘ by Jane Harper. Which just happen to be two of our new Book Club Kits; I hope they enjoyed them!