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The Dictionary of Lost Words

Narrated by: Imogen Sage
Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (391 ratings)

Non-member price: $42.54

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Publisher's Summary

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 begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. 

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others - 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.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men.

©2020 Pip Williams (P)2020 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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What listeners say about The Dictionary of Lost Words

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An Engrossing Story, A Thinkpiece on Words

If you just get this for the story, it is of a woman neither shy nor brave, whose love of language and words signpost her life. She is a comfortable and keen observer and a reluctant protagonist. It is also a story of language, of words and their power, where the epilogue and author's notes play as vital a role as any plot point. I feel that echoes of this moving, intelligent, thoughtful book will reverberate in my head and heart for the rest of my life.

11 people found this helpful

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Loved it

I loved every second of this wonderful story. Full of heart and the narration is perfect. This has become a new favourite for me

8 people found this helpful

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detailed, thought provoking and entertaining

loved the characters, narrative and historical accuracy. narrator was great to listen to and read with care. highly recommend!

7 people found this helpful

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Please re-record the epilogue so that ‘Kaurna’ is pronounced correctly

re-record the epilogue so that ‘Kaurna’ is pronounced correctly. For a book that is so focused on words and their importance, it’s embarrassing and grating to hear the name of the people indigenous to the Adelaide plains pronounced incorrectly

6 people found this helpful

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Gentle sweet sad special

I loved this book. Williams dealt with the difficulties of single parenthood, gender roles, inequality , change and war without too much opinion, letting the reader feel through it. A smashing read and so well voice acted; Imogen Sage is very talented.

6 people found this helpful

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Througherly enjoyed.

I didn't think I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did. Througherly enjoyed it, narrated well and had me wanting to know more.

3 people found this helpful

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My new favourite book.

Thiis book has been beautifully written. The audio version is read perfectly. I have withdrawals already.

2 people found this helpful

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Loved listening to this book

Loved the story woven around historical events. Finally, a narrator whose voice ages with the characters. I really enjoyed this book.

2 people found this helpful

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Thoroughly enjoyed this book!

I loved this book! Well Done Pip Williams! I laughed, cried twice and was so easy to listen to! Beautifully written and really captured the life and times, back then! I Loved it!!!

2 people found this helpful

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A beautiful book

I was tentative at first, but this book is just lovely. Wonderfully narrated. It’s long, but worth it!!

2 people found this helpful