This book seeks to shine a light on women who history would eschew as undesirable or "other" for various reason and lets their story be told with plausible insights into what was really going on. The authors clearly did their research and are very knowledgeable about that which they speak and present these women's stories in a thought-provoking, insightful, and sometimes eerie way.
The first thing that struck me immediately is the writing itself. It was quick, clever and downright hilarious. The back and forth banter often reminded me of Gilmore Girls, and the small town that the book takes place in had a total Stars Hollow vibe to it, even down to the town hall meeting that Nora attended for pure entertainment purposes just like Lorelei. I was hooked!
How does something so seemingly innocuous become something scandalous, or insulting, or crude. Why did they become those things, and who rewrote their meanings? Who decides what is to be written down and immortalized and why are some words left out? Who speaks those words? Why don't their voices get to be remembered? These are the questions that plague Esme Nicoll as she goes from playing under the sorting table in the Scriptorium to creating her own Dictionary of Lost Words.
As a book-lover, I also loved all the references to books and titles, and all the talk about books. I could relate to that on so many levels. Having worked at a bookstore many years in my teens and early twenties, I have a real fondness for the written word and the way a story can completely transport you from the real world to a world of the author's imagining. And books have power: to heal, to help, to encourage, to make us feel less alone. All of that came through loud and clear in this novel.