The Grammarians

The Grammarians coverThe Grammarians: A Novel
Cathleen Schine
Sarah Crichton Books (September 3, 2019)
272 pages
Kindle edition $13.99, Amazon hardcover $22.99

This novel received some excellent reviews, and those reviews are well-deserved.

The book is about a pair of identical twins, Laurel and Daphne, who share a love for language and words. Their connection is made clear in their names. In Greek mythology the nymph Daphne is turned into a laurel tree.

When the two were very young they had their own secret language, which was unnerving to their parents and their psychologist uncle. All were relieved when they were old enough to begin speaking English. The two shared pretty much everything as children, and as high school graduates attended three years of college together after spending their freshman year apart. (It was Pomona College, in fact, one of the Claremont Colleges, as is Pitzer College from which I graduated. This gets all of a one-line mention.)

The novel is only one-fourth complete when the girls, now women, are college graduates and have begun seeking careers, or at least work. The two both meet their future husbands at about the same time and have a double wedding. They both live in New York City as they start their working lives, Laurel teaching kindergarten and Daphne working at an alternative weekly newspaper (something I myself have done). Over time they grow apart and eventually stop speaking.

The final ten percent of the novel covers a period of several years and is somewhat of a jumble. It is almost as if the author was only allowed a certain number of pages for her book and had a lot she wanted to cram into those final pages. In the end things come full circle and loose ends are tied up, if not in a totally satisfying manner.

This is not the perfect novel, but if you enjoy language and words you’ll likely find it worth your time and money.

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