The Grammarians

A Novel
Narrated by: Hillary Huber
Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
3.7 out of 5 stars (156 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

2019 Amazon.com Best Books of the Year

A 2019 NPR Best Book of the Year

2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

2019 New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year

"This listen is for lovers of words, lovers of a great story, and lovers of a great narration. Hillary Huber does a fantastic job capturing this wonderful novel about twin girls, their love for each other, and their eventual rivalry." (AudioFile Magazine)

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 audiobook 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.

©2019 Cathleen Schine (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

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What listeners say about The Grammarians

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  • Overall
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brilliant meditation on life and language

I'm a Linguistics professor. I want to make all my students read this book and reflect on how our views of language can shape our life.

3 people found this helpful

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Not well executed

I had high hopes for this novel. I loved the premise and I am a "collector of words" as is one of the main characters. The problem was that I didn't like any of the characters until nearly the end of the book. No character stole my heart or showed much charm. If I can't identify with a protagonist, I can't enjoy the novel. The ending was also quite disappointing, it merely narrated the future - all tell, no show.

4 people found this helpful

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Horrible narration

The story is boring, cliche, and the narration is awful. The narrators voice is not bad but I don’t feel like she is using the right inflections which is making the story obnoxious. She also does not have enough different voices I can hardly tell one character from the next. Sometimes I can tell if it’s supposed to be a man talking but hardly. By the end of the book I was getting angry when I got into my car because it was so miserable to listen to!

9 people found this helpful

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Boring

My Book Group was reading this book, so I stuck it out. The plot sounded interesting but it turned out to be dull. In addition, the narration made all the characters sounds sniping and haughty, so listening was unpleasant. It boils down to a story of twin sisters who are close but find ways to despise each other (really?) awkwardly wedged into a device for the author to bore us with obscure words and grammar dissections. Didn’t work for me.

1 person found this helpful

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Great listen!

Great narrator, awesome entertaining story, lovely ending. The book got better and better from start to finish.

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Puzzled

The book had my full attention until the last two-three chapters. The author’s conclusion was fast, tidy, and unsatisfying.

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Worth a credit

A good story, well written that promoted the universal theme: Relationships are messy but ultimately worth it. Schine does a great job of creating likeable characters who do the wrong thing and need to be forgiven. This reader truly enjoyed every chapter of this book.

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Schine shines again!

A devotional to words, grammar & language, shared with biting wit and sharp humor. Characters are rendered lovingly, but not romanticized. A look at the familial that in unsentimental, but not unkind, (someone forgive me the double negative!). Interesting, imperfect, entertaining family members that tell the story of what is really important in the end - family.

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Unusual and addictive

I confess to a love of grammar, but this book is about so much more. Cathleen writes a novel that is honest, intense, thought-provoking.

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A beautiful unsentimental masterpiece

This touched me so much. The way this family is presented isn't particularly unusual but the language, the words , a religion as much as an obsession and the clear, unsentimental writing makes it a joy to listen to. Fantastic reader also !