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The Cruelest Mercy

The Dictionary of Lost Words

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Hardcover

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Discover the internationally bestselling debut, SHORTLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION

‘If you only read one book this year, let it be this one!’ FIVE STAR NETGALLEY READER REVIEW

‘An extraordinary, charming novel… Williams pins a whole, rich life to the page’ The Times

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.

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.

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The Dictionary of Lost Words:

Review

An enchanting story about love, loss and the power of language, what gets recorded and what gets forgotten. Set at a time when women’s voices were clamouring more than ever to be heard, it moved me greatly to think how history is skewed by those who hold power — and how important it is that novels like this redress that balance — Elizabeth Macneal, author or The Doll Factory

A brilliant book about women and words – tender, moving and profound — Jacqueline Wilson

What a novel of words, their adventure and their capacity to define and, above all, challenge the world. There will not be this year a more original novel published. I just know it — Thomas Keneally

I absolutely loved this book! Thought-provoking, touching and subtly romantic; I finished it in tears — Katie Fforde

Inspired by a wisp of fact – a single word accidentally omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary – Pip Williams has spun a marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress. This is a novel that brings to light not only lost words, but the lost stories of women’s lives. It is at once timely and timeless.

About the Author

Writer and researcher Pip Williams was born in London, grew up in Sydney and lives in the Adelaide Hills with her partner and two sons. Her debut fiction, The Dictionary of Lost Words, was the bestselling new novel of 2020 in Australia. Pip began writing the story when she delved into the history of the Oxford English Dictionary and discovered that the definition of the word ‘bondmaid’ had failed to make its way into the first edition.

Author can be found online at http://pipwilliams.com.au/

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Additional information

Weight600 g
Dimensions24 × 18 × 5 cm
Binding Style

Hardcover

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