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The Grammarians
$23.00

The Grammarians

By Cathleen Schine
272 pages
Paperback
November 2020


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.

"Captivating . . . written with the tender precision and clarity of a painting by Vermeer . . . [a] wry and elegant novel." ―Ann Levin, Associated Press

"A delightful new novel . . . Schine takes her readers on deep philosophical dives but resurfaces with craft and humor; her tone is amused and amusing." ―Susan Dominus, The New York Times Book Review

"This tale of twins who "elbow each other out of the way in the giant womb of the world" is smart, buoyant and bookish ― in the best sense of the word." ―Heller McAlpin, NPR

"Cathleen Schine’s new novel, The Grammarians, is a rich study of the factions that attempt to define how language should be used."―Lauren Leibowitz, The New Yorker

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