What I liked about Cathleen Schine’s The Grammarians

My red-headed, word-loving sister has a big birthday this month. She is the family resource on all matters of grammar, spelling, etymology, and word puzzles of every sort.

To celebrate her big day, we siblings (there are nine of us) are sending her a word-themed gift of our choosing.  

My gift to her is The Grammarians: A Novel, by Cathleen Schine. It is a story of twin sisters and how their love of language unites and separates them.

Here are the things I like about The Grammarians, and why I think my sister will love it too:

Interesting Story by Canadian artist Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)
  1. The main characters are red-headed sisters.
  2. The major plot device is an old dictionary.
  3. The depiction of how the young girls developed into logophiles is fascinating. Aspects of it ring true to my own experience of being raised with a word-loving sister.
  4. There is a convincing argument that Webster’s Third Edition (1961) played loosey-goosey with the English language and decimated the pristine standards set by Webster’s Second Edition (1934).
  5. Hidden in the main story is a tiny subplot about ornithology. Love of birds meets love of words. Swoon.
  6. The author spells her name the same way our mom did.
  7. There’s a good cry at the end.

Happy birthday, Sister! Thank you for sharing your love of words with me.

The Little Red Hair, by Laura Muntz Lyall (1860-1930)


  1. How delightful.
    ‘Logophile” was new to me and not included in my 2002 Fourth Edition of the American Heritage College Dictionary. Obviously I have the wrong dictionary,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Jenny! I sometimes feel like the stern teacher who’s always correcting, but—no prevaricating—I did love my red pen back in my editing days 😉. It’s always fun to spot and learn new words. I’m already enjoying the book.

    Liked by 1 person

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