Tuesday, April 13th
The Grammarians: A Novel
by Cathleen Schine
This month's discussion will be held online. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to participate.
A literary twin experiment: At the heart of this comic novel about supersmart, language-obsessed sisters are profound questions about how close two human beings can be. "Was there anyone who understood anyone else as well as she and Daphne understood each other? There was no need to explain or justify wanting to climb linoleum M.C. Escher stairs to live in a tenement their grandparents had probably moved out of the minute they could, because Daphne already understood. Understanding is love, Laurel thought." The darling redheaded twin daughters of Arthur and Sally Wolfe of Larchmont, New York, Laurel and Daphne invent their own language while still in the crib, then embrace English with a passion that lasts the rest of their lives. "Fugacious...oxters...promptuary....They played with the words as if they were toys...involving them in intrigues of love and friendship and bitter enmity." Elegant chapters, each headed with a classic definition from Samuel Johnson's dictionary, follow the identical pair through childhood to that post-collegiate tenement apartment where the first rumblings of what will come to be known as the Rift are heard. By th e time of their double wedding, Laurel and Daphne are more aware of their differences than their similarities. As 17-minutes-younger Daphne becomes a famous language columnist and 17-minutes-older Laurel becomes a kindergarten teacher, then a mom, the power between them shifts dangerously—then real hostilities are launched during a disagreement about the relative importance of Fowler's Modern English Usage and The Chicago Manual of Style. As we've come to expect in 10 previous novels, Schine's (They May Not Mean To, but They Do, 2016, etc.) warmth and wisdom about how families work and don't work are as reliable as her wry humor, and we often get both together: "Michael suspected Larry was as smart as anyone, just not paying attention. Like a Galapagos tortoise, he had no need to pay attention. He had no predators. He was protected by an expansive carapace of good nature, money, and family status." This impossibly endearing and clever novel sets off a depth charge of emotion and meaning.-Kirkus starred review
Where: Howe Library
Room: Currently meeting online.
Time: 12:00 - 1:00