This is one library book I'm going to have to buy and give a permanent place to on my bookshelf. This was such a heartbreakingly beautiful and ultimately redemptive story about grief and the aftermath of violence and trauma.
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.
equal parts a cautionary tale of what can result from ignoring mental illness, as well as an in-depth look at family dynamics and relationships, from the secrets we keep to the misunderstandings that cause strife. Gunnis takes us on this journey, keeping us guessing the whole way, and faithfully leads us to the end in such a way as to be bereft with the finish of this stunning piece of fiction.
The author's writing was probably the best part of the book. Her way with words is admirable, and I could almost see, hear and smell the area of Brittany through her words. She also was, at times, very prosaic, which I appreciate as well. Her writing really brought the scene to life, but that's probably the only redeeming feature of this book.
The author takes us back to the mid-century glam of 1952 New York City and the Barbizon Hotel for women, with a glimpse into the way of life for unmarried, career women in New York City at this time. Feeling alone, homesick and out of place amidst her Ford model neighbors, Darby meets Esme, a smart, scrappy maid / coatcheck girl, and is introduced to a whole new side of New York City, and the dawning realization that maybe, just maybe, she could make a home for herself there after all.