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The Grammarians

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  6,503 ratings  ·  1,139 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
Audio CD, 8 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by MacMillan Audio (first published September 3rd 2019)
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Mildy no sex nor violence.
a few swear words.…more
no sex nor violence.
a few swear words.(less)

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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  6,503 ratings  ·  1,139 reviews

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Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Cuckoo over word play…then a dive to 3.5!

If you’re a word freak, you will probably adore this novel about identical twins who live to play with words! I was jazzed for most of the show, but I was eyeballing the exit as I watched the final act, which was the whole last quarter of the book.

And it’s not just word play, it’s grammar! Twins who love grammar? Are you kidding me? I was in pig heaven (whatever that means). This was an editor’s dream, I tell you! I was thrilled when I heard serious talk
Diane S ☔
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019
Twin, n. A couple; a pair;two
Twin, v.t. To part, sever, sunder, deprive of.

And do a matching set of twins are born. Vibrant red hair, a precocious pair, who take to language early and never really stop from it being fascinating. Their closeness even into intimadated their mother, their was scarcely a thought that between them went unshared. What one knew, the other did. They even made of their own language. Words were important, are important and how it is used matter. Lauren and Daphne, one tho
Kathryn Speckels (Metaphors and Miscellanea)
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
Kitty Jay
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Chavelli Sulikowska
This book was a lot of fun. An unusual premise, twin sisters who share a unique affinity with words and language that both binds them together and propels them apart as they grow up. The story follows them from birth right through to their old age, at each stage tracking their experiences of life through language.

Very well written, Schine has a sharp wit and a keen sense of humour. I found myself smiling, breaking into a giggle - surely a sign of a good read. I am not a twin, but my dad is (ide
Donna Davis
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone, but especially twins and those that love them.
Oh hell yes. This charming little book had me on the first page, and when it was over, I was sorry to be done. Big thanks go to Net Galley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the review copy. This is the first time I have read anything Schine has written, but it cannot possibly be the last. You can buy it now.

We start in the dark; we start behind bars. Happily, it’s because our protagonists are infants, and they’re in a crib. As light streams through the open door, we enter the lives of Daphne an
Mar 14, 2020 rated it liked it
I had a hard time thinking about how to review this book. It was only 2.5 -3 stars for me. And I know I will once again run up against positive reviews. I know this because I only picked out this book because I subscribe to the New York Review of Books (NYRB) and Alan Hollinghurst over the course of two pages gave it a very good review. So I wanted to read it. I went into reading the book with a positive bias.

This novel is about two identical twins, Laurel and Daphne, who from their birth are ob
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Robert Blumenthal
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Words to describe this novel: delightful, clever, witty, intelligent, droll, and, finally, moving. I have been a fan of Cathleen Schine for some time now, starting with her Rameau's Niece from the early 1990s. The Grammarians is like a finely aged wine, written by a skilled novelist at the height of her craft. It is a novel of twins trying to find their independence as well as how we humans use language.

Daphne and Laurel are very precocious twins growing up in Westchester, NY. They become obsess
Kasa Cotugno
I had a problem getting into this, and it didn't work for me. ...more
Geonn Cannon
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lot of the lesser reviews of this book mention its summary was misleading, or wrong. They claim it isn't about sisters who have a rift, instead it's a story about sisters and how they eventually grow apart. The separation isn't the focus, the focus is the relationship that was lost. This was a beautiful, funny story about a realistic relationship between two sisters and their lives together and their lives apart. It's likely going to be one of my favorite books of the year. If you like stories ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Joe Oser
Sep 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, dnf, overdrive
Women's fiction. Mild family drama. Did not match blurb. ...more
La Tonya  Jordan
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to La Tonya by: Honeycomb Page Turners of The Bee Hive book Club
Shelves: good-read
A beautiful book about family and words. Laurel and Daphne Wolfe are identical red-haired twins born to Sally and Arthur Wolfe in Larchmont, NY. Their bond as twins was strong. So
indestructible they came up with their own language to communicate between the two of them. So powerful their mother at times felt left out of the collective.

When their father brought home a enormous dictionary with thin pages and tiny small print with its own altar, their world changed into a colossal maze of words t
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5. I really wanted to like this book but mostly I admired it. Clever. But it didn't pick up for me until about 50% through. That said, I v. much liked the second half and even more so, the ending [though it was a tad rushed]. I found it uneven--as I do Cathleen Schine's work. ...more
Nov 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This started out really good but couldn’t hold my interest throughout. Felt like a chore to finish. Disappointed because I had high hopes for this book. Oh well, la dee dah, la dee dah.
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: available
Joyce and Diane S wrote wonderful reviews for this title
Joy Clark
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, netgalley-arc
2.5 stars - Twins that love words. What's not to love? I really wanted to enjoy this one more than I did. It was decent but not at all what I was expecting. The language part of the book (you would think it would be the major part, given the title) was really a background troupe. It didn't fully fit with the rest of the story, and the big fight as advertised in the summary was only a very small part of the book. I enjoyed the exploration of sisterhood and the grammatical/wordy fun, I was just un ...more
Aaron Broadwell
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Something about this book didn't quite break through for me. I think the narration never let me identify fully with the characters, and their adult alienation from each other didn't seem to be very well motivated.

From a structural point of view, I liked the idea of rival twins, who begin united by language and latter split due to language. I also liked the dictionary definitions that start each chapter.

But the loves, hates, and passions of the book didn't seem to me like the passions of real peo
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was intrigued by the reviews and the blurbs promoting this as a witty book, filled with word play. It is actually a pretty dull story about a set of twins growing up and apart. So dull I couldn't be bothered finishing it. ...more
Nov 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Not my usual fiction read but turned out to be very interesting. 3.5 rating.

Story of identical twins, Daphne and Laurel, who are very close all through childhood and their twenties, bonded through an extreme love of words that is encouraged by their father. I had trouble keeping the twins separate in my head but gradually their distinct personalities developed to a point that I could.

Best part of the book to me was near the end, when each sister was stubbornly arguing for her own theory of lan
Heather Fineisen
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
A quirky bit of charming. The story of identical twin sisters follows them through life. Revolving around language and the love of words in both careers and personal lives. The twins discover what it is to come together and apart.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 There’s so much here for grammar nerds to relish in but I’m not sure others will enjoy that aspect as much as I did. The word-play is delicious and clever but the book still has a beautiful beating heart and shows us what love can look like. Truly delightful.
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
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes a book hits you where you live, and you don't even realize it is speaking to you until the last line. "The Grammarians" did this to me. I just finished it. I am shaking and my eyes are leaking.
As this is an ARC I cannot quote the last line, but it gives me hope, in this time of broken relationships in my own family, relationships which have broken for such a stupid reason, the one which has divided our whole country.
This is not what causes the sisters in "The Grammarians" to break wit
Karen Brown
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved reading this delightful story of Laurel and Daphne, and you will too!
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Play Book Tag: The Grammarians, by Cathleen Schine; 2 Stars 5 23 Nov 13, 2019 05:21AM  

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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.

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“What if the blue I see is different than the blue you see?” one of you says in the morning. “The blue is the same, and our eyes are the same. So no way,” says the other of you. Twins in literature are always disguised as each other, or they are sleeping with each other. The banality of “twin sweater sets” cannot make up for Siegmund and Sieglinde. You think that later, of course, much later, when no one wears sweater sets anymore and you have just read a disturbing story by Thomas Mann. “But what if we both call it blue and it’s really a different color but we both have always called it blue so we think we’re seeing the same color but we’re not?” says one of you. “Blue is blue,” the other of you says. “What I see as blue might be what you see as green. We don’t know. You’re not in my eyes. I’m not in your eyes.” 1 likes
“There were not words for what she felt, the depth of the emptiness, the breadth of the emptiness, the emptiness of the emptiness. Words could only cloak what she felt. Words were supposed to illuminate and clarify. Words were meant to communicate and and feelings from one person to another. But today words stood numb and in the way.” 1 likes
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