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The Grammarians

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  105 reviews
"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 ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Sarah Crichton Books
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3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  269 ratings  ·  105 reviews

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Kathryn Speckels
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
The Grammarians is a tale of sisterhood and a love letter to the English language. Cute, quirky, and highly readable, this book was a good deal of fun, especially for someone as word-obsessed as I am.

The blurb on this book is rather misleading, so I’m providing my own here. As children, Daphne and Laurel—red-haired identical twins—speak to each other in a pidgin language of their own creation, much to the bafflement of those around them. Their greatest delight comes from poring over an old dicti
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. It’s a decent book, easy to read. But it’s falsely advertised. The story makes it seem like most of the book deals with this fight between the two sisters when about 2/3rd deals with them growing up and just naturally drifting apart... the ending was a bit unrealistic as well... if it had been advertised better I’d have given it 4 stars. It’s more about twins who lose sight of the other
Kasa Cotugno
I had a problem getting into this, and it didn't work for me.
Kitty Jay
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: giveaways, fiction
From the summary, we have what seems to be a rousing set-up for a biting grammatical comedy: "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 twin-ship finally shreds completely when the sisters go to war, absurdly but passionately, over custody of their most prized ...more
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve had a very mixed experience with the author thus far. I’ve discovered her while reading her latest(prior to this) book, which was an absolutely lovely introduction, but it didn’t hold extend to her earlier work. Seems to me that she’s improved tremendously over the years and now her talent really shines when it comes to a very specific sort of subtly humorous New York stories. This is one such story about two redheaded twin sisters united and later divided by their love, no, more like arden ...more
Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I received an ARC copy via a Goodreads giveaway: 3.5/5 stars. Biting and laugh-out-loud funny, though the ending felt a bit rushed.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Grammarians is the story of identical twins, Laurel and Daphne, who are both obsessed with words; they even speak their own language to each other which frustrates their mom to no end.

I really enjoyed this quick, easy to read story as it followed Laurel and Daphne from newborns to the end of their lives. Laurel and Daphne's lives revolve around words but when words take them on different paths, can they find their way back to each other? You'll have to read this story to find out, and you,
Jul 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
---- Disclosure: I received this book for free from Goodreads. ---- Dnf at ~ p. 85, b/c it just wasn't interesting. That's really about all I can say about it. I'm into words & odd characters, but unfortunately nothing here clicked for me. Don't even have suggestions for how to make it better, as there's not anything in particular that I noticed wasn't working. The whole thing just fell flat, so I'm moving on.
Joshua (ithildins)
May 24, 2019 marked it as to-read
A book about the love of grammar - sign me up, please! I need this like I need air. GR giveaway, don't fail me now!

Also, I want to put my name in the hat for a copy of that dictionary, thank you very much.
Crystal Zavala
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways

I won The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine from Goodreads!
I loved The Grammarians! The Grammarians is about identical twins, Laurel and Daphne. The book follows them from toddlerhood in the 70's through the passing of their parents. As toddlers, the twins create their own language to communicate with each other. At the age of 5, their father brings home a Miriam Webster dictionary and the girls become enamored with words and their meanings. In adulthood the twins grow apart and a rift forms.
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog:
'There was something wayward in the twins’ relationship now, a devious shift Sally sensed but could not catch in the act.'

Much like their father Arthur and his brother Don ‘were like trees that had been planted too near each other”, redheaded, identical twins Laurel and Daphne Wolfe have a bond that begins with a secret shared language until even their love of words pushes them apart and the relationship feels like a confinement. As in all sibli
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I received this ARC in a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

“The Grammarians” follows the lives of precocious twin girls who share the “special bond” characteristic of identical siblings, which for them is a shared secret language. This broadens to a mutual romance with words, fueled by their father’s purchase of a massive English dictionary. The tome, perched on a wooden stand, is given pride of place, where the girls obsessively pore over it.

As adults, there is no juicy compet
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on September third.

Isn’t it funny how words can both simplify and add complexity, often simultaneously? This book was one of those rare stories where little happens, but in such an all-encompassing way that when you read the final sentence, you feel like you’ve experienced something profound.

Laurel and Daphne are identical twins. They’ve always been close, and they both sha
Kathleen Gray
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I suspect this is going to be one of those love it or hate it literary novels that deserves a larger readership than it will get and might be put down early on by those who read the promotional material and expected something other than what it is. What it is is a very interesting, to me, story about a pair of twins- Daphne and Laurel- who worship language. It's told in the third person from a variety of perspectives, not only theirs but also that of their mother, their love interests, etc. This ...more
Mary McBride
One of my favorite books ever was Fin and Lady by Cathleen Schine.
I will continue to read her but have not found one that compares.
This is the story of twin girls who are obsessed with words and their meanings. Their prized possession is an old dictionary they refer to as a sibling. The stand for the dictionary is called the altar.
The story follows them throughout their lives- together and apart- but always surrounded by words.
A clever premise.
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny and moving. This felt like a near-perfectly edited novel: it had exactly the right amount in it.

The book follows language-obsessed twin sisters as they go from kids creeping out their parents with an uncanny facility with wordplay (and a dictionary that gets treated like the family pet) to living hyper-connected adult lives until differing priorities make them drift apart. The sibling rivalry between the girls' father and his brother is also spot-on and affecting.
Carole Knoles
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had to really think about why I liked this book about twin sisters,who are enamored from infancy with language, but like it I did. I am not a twin and have no sister to bond or feud with. The book is not brimming with excitement but the author’s clever facility of the language theme had me happily turning pages.
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway. A quirky story, that was ultimately very moving, with prickly and sometimes very, very funny characters. I enjoyed this book very much.
Daniel Aken
If there is a common theme uniting Cathleen Schine’s incredibly varied body of work, it is family. Throughout her career, Schine has explored a multitude of groupings and personalities that are encompassed by the term family, and in her 11th novel, The Grammarians, she explores yet another intriguing combination of characters who share the same last name, but a diversity of traits and mannerisms. She intertwines her narrative with a fascinating discussion of words and language, an obsession shar ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-novels
Two of Cathleen Schine’s slight comic novels have been filmed (The Love Letter and Rameau’s Niece.).  Her frothy new novel, The Grammarians, also seems destined for Hollywood. As light as a helium balloon, it flies up, up, and away before falling to the earth, sans gas. The mood is reminiscent of Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, only with identical twin grammarians instead of a disillusioned architect.

Twins in novels and films are freaky, and the twins in The Grammarians are no except
Samantha Kappes
While Cathleen Schine's The Gramarians lacked a singular plot- it shone through in terms of word-geekery and characters so real you could feel them breathing through the pages. I found it hard to follow along and stay interested, as I never knew quite what was happening in a book that spans a majority of two sibling's lives- the pacing was a nightmare in itself, but I found myself invested in the lives of two linguaphile twins and their family.

The Grammarians starts with a phone call- a husband
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Public Service Announcement: Cathleen Schine is one of my favorite authors. Goodreads brag: I was the first person to borrow her latest book from my local library.

The protagonists of this novel are identical twin sisters, Laurel and Daphne Wolfe, who developed a secret language to communicate with one another from their earliest months and continued to use this language well into adulthood to cement their connection and sometimes, just to play with adults. Twin speak, twin breaks an
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love words, and I love stories about female friendship, especially this kind, where each friend looks to the other as a mirror, to help her figure out who she is, and as a window, to help her figure out what the world is. These two are twins, and they're both the kind of child who makes friends with a dictionary and tries to take it to bed in order to have someone to talk to.
In school, both Laurel and Daphne often had to clarify that they were themselves and not their sister. "No," they would
Aug 28, 2019 added it
Shelves: own-s
No one builds you up and drives you crazy like your sister.

As children, redheaded identical twins Daphne and Laurel speak to each other in a language all their own, confusing everyone around them. Together they share a love of words and bond over a dictionary brought home by their father. As they grow up their love for words never deteriorates , but their sisterly love starts to crumble. Will life's ups and downs cause the two to drift apart for good?

Nobody gets you quite like your sister.

I rece
Daphne and Laurel are twins who at an early age fall in love with words. They climb a small stool to peer into their father's gigantic unabridged dictionary perched on a wooden stand.

Each chapter in this winsome novel opens with the definition of a word as stated in Samuel Johnson's dictionary (as opposed to Webster's Third Unabridged which is the object of the girls' affection)), ranging from "conversableness" to "will." We begin in the beginning with the redheads' birth and early childhood in
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Daphne and Laurel are twins obsessed with words. Just a few years older than me, they grew up in the 1970s in Westchester and as soon as they're old enough, they move to Manhattan. A lifelong relationship with an unabridged dictionary, torturing their therapist uncle, and of course their own very personal relationship with each other and with being twins, suffuses every pore of this novel.

I found it fascinating that my sympathies actually shifted throughout the book. Initially, I liked Daphne mo
Zachary Houle
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cathleen Schine is an excellent writer, and you can tell this is a fact because she dares to write a book titled The Grammarians, which is partially about language and the use thereof. She knows her stuff, while I — working in the trenches — have to rely on Grammarly to check everything before I publish, and there’s still a chance that I might get things wrong. Anyhow, this is a book that is so good that you want to come up with new words to describe it: terrifidelic, supradelcious, and snazzeri ...more
"I thought you were going to say having a baby must be like having a twin."
"But a baby is a whole other person."
"I hate to keep harping on this, but so is your sister."
No, Daphne thought. My sister is me if I were different.

I was really excited to read The Grammarians based on the premise (and, let's admit it, the cover). I'm not sure why it fell a little flat for me - it was quick to read and clever at times, but perhaps tried to cover too much ground in such a small volume.

Spoilers below!

Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I adored Cathleen Schine’s witty and heartwarming, “They May Not Mean To But They Do,” so I was delighted to hear I had won the opportunity to receive a pre-publication copy of her latest book. It did not disappoint. Twins Daphne and Laurel are incredibly close, precocious twins who develop what will become a lifelong love of language from the time they share a crib. Their constant curiosity about new words and their word play is entertaining, though though I must admit it took me a while to dev ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up with a set of twins and we were close up until we went to college. I was never aware of a personal “twin” language but I was supremely aware that they were each one-half of a whole. They went everywhere together until they didn’t and not surprisingly much of their separation was due to an object they both coveted and of course the opposite sex.

But back to The Grammarians, Laurel and Daphne, identical twins, oddities, objects of “those stares”, speaking in their special language, commun
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Cathleen Schine is the author of The New Yorkers, The Love Letter, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport among other novels. She has contributed to The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The New York Times Book Review.
“Why does ignorance make you feel superior, Daphne? Laurel thinks.” 0 likes
“Copyediting is helping the words survive the misconceptions of their authors.” 0 likes
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