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Publisher's Summary

*Longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize 2021*

An exhilarating and laugh-out-loud debut novel from a prize-winning new talent that chronicles the misadventures of a lovelorn Victorian lexicographer and the young woman put on his trail a century later to root out his misdeeds while confronting questions of her own sexuality and place in the world.

“An audacious, idiosyncratic dual love story about how language and people intersect and connect, and about how far we'll go to save what we're passionate about.” (NPR)

Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.

Peter Winceworth, Victorian lexicographer, is toiling away at the letter S for Swansby's multivolume Encyclopaedic Dictionary. His disaffection compels him to insert unauthorized fictitious entries into the dictionary in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. 

In the present day, Mallory, a young intern employed by the publisher, is tasked with uncovering these mountweazels before the work is digitized. She also has to contend with threatening phone calls from an anonymous caller. Is the change in the definition of marriage really that upsetting? And does the caller really intend for the Swansby's staff to "burn in hell"?

As these two narratives combine, both Winceworth and Mallory discover how they might negotiate the complexities of the often nonsensical, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, and undefinable path we call life. An exhilarating debut novel from a formidably brilliant young writer, The Liar's Dictionary celebrates the rigidity, fragility, absurdity, and joy of language. 

©2021 Eley Williams (P)2021 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Liar's Dictionary

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The liar’s Dictionary

Unsympathetic characters. Dialogue for woman is annoying in that she digresses a great deal. It’s one thing to love words. It’s another to use them to hide behind. Found male character’s use of lisp an affectation that was unworthy of his intellect.
While it’s not my job to analyze either, I spent too much time in their company. I stayed the course since I was driving, but cannot day I’d recommend the book overall.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good performance, boring story

I thought this would be fun but it ended up being pretty boring. Kept waiting for it to get better and it never did. Ironically, and I suppose not surprisingly, the story could have been told in half the number of words 🤷🏼‍♂️

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Lush language highlights plot

This book was clever and well thought out as well as seeped in beautiful language. Definitely a literate pleasure!
The style and the language fit playfully with the plot line. It’s rare to find an author who can do that. Cant wait to read the next book. 😊

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Did not capture my attention

The characters were uninteresting and dull. Much more could have been done with the story arc connecting the two main characters.
Halfway through I sped up the narration just to finish the book. There was little suspense in the story even with the opportunity to create some.
Even though I thought the performance was very good, I would not recommend.