The Grammarians

The Grammarians

by Cathleen Schine


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An enchanting, comic love letter to sibling rivalry and the English language.

From the author compared to Nora Ephron and Nancy Mitford, not to mention Jane Austen, comes a new novel celebrating the beauty, mischief, and occasional treachery of language.

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 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 twinship finally shreds completely when the sisters go to war, absurdly but passionately, over custody of their most prized family heirloom: Merriam Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition.

Cathleen Schine has written a playful and joyful celebration of the interplay of language and life. A dazzling comedy of sisterly and linguistic manners, a revelation of the delights and stresses of intimacy, The Grammarians is the work of one of our great comic novelists at her very best.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374280116
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 09/03/2019
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 35,943
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Cathleen Schine is the author of They May Not Mean to, But They Do; The Three Weissmanns of Westport; and The Love Letter, 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. She lives in Los Angeles.


New York, New York, and Venice, California

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Bridgeport, Connecticut


B.A., Barnard College, 1976

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The Grammarians 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
What an amazing book. Schine is a genius. Get Kleenex out for the last couple of chapters.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I was really drawn to this book and for good reason. Twins Daphne and Laurel are drawn to words and grammar at an early age and live their live immersed in the topic. I thought the character development was amazing in this novel and I loved the many quirks that occur in this book. I really loved the writing style of this author and did not want this book to end. Thanks for the ARC, Net Galley.
DebraSchwartz1971 6 months ago
Laurel and Daphne Wolfe are identical twins with a love of language. From a very young age they communicated with each other in a language they created. Even after they began speaking English they would still fall back on their private language. Laurel was born first, which set the stage for a little bit of sibling rivalry, and as they grow older the rivalry also grows. I loved the way the author started each chapter with an entry from Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, the way Daphne collected words while Laurel provided the definitions of the words, and the way they played with words. The twins were very intelligent and used words with joy but they also used words to cause distress; their psychiatrist uncle seemed to be afraid of the twins. It was interesting to watch as they finally grew into individuals, as painful as it was. I received an ARC from NetGalley and this is my honest review.
MKF 7 months ago
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, I think, allows the reader to see them as others do-which is, to be honest, a little creepy in spots. This is about sisterhood, differences, prescription versus description, and most of all, the English language. A battle over a family dictionary? Yes, it can be engaging and its about more than the physical item. I learned some new words (awesome) and enjoyed the punning (which Schine, thankfully, kept manageable.). Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. Try this one- it's a great treat from a wonderful writer.