There is a delicious warm breeze flowing from the open windows of my front sitting room and heading straight out the laundry door in the back. It inspired me to wash my floors, which then led to scrubbing my kitchen cupboards with Gumption.
Gumption. What a good word. And a reminder that I am easily influenced.
My bestie Susan and I ‘Marco Polo’ message each other most days. The other day she asked me if I loved Gumption too. It is a one-way conversation so I could not respond, but I did nod emphatically and chalk it up as another reason to suggest Susan and I were separated at birth. A shared love of cleaning products is not a convincing argument to present to our parents, but we have a list as long as our arms of all the ways we are #twinning at life. Never mind that I am three years older.
I first noticed Susan through her words. She and I both wrote guest contributions for another writer and I could tell from the way she wrote that we were kindred spirits. In true Yvette Cherry form, I reached out via the internet and told her that we were friends. I have made many excellent friends that way.
My floor mopping was also driven by my desire to finish the audiobook I’d started this week. I decided to start a novel because I’ve been feeling queasy and headachey for almost three weeks. I’m not pregnant and so I think it might be stress; related to the many due dates that are the inevitability of full-time student life. I find a novel to be the very best way to remove myself from the actual world. It is the reason I loved books so much as a kid.
I’m also heavily influenced by Em Hazledean’s monthly reading list and inspired to read by her skillful evangelism. (Evangelism: zealous advocacy or support of a particular cause.) Her reading adventures, beautifully captured on her own blog, remind me that there are worlds out there ready to whisk me away.
I don’t see the point in an audible book unless you are on the move, and having some Audible credit points and quite a messy kitchen, I opted for a reading of The Dictionary of Lost Words, the first novel by British-Australian, Pip Williams. I have almost finished it, but the headphones went dead just before the end. (I wonder if my childhood self could conceive of the concept- that you couldn’t finish your book because your headphones went dead?)
I knew nothing about the book when I chose it except that it ranked highly on their bestseller list, so I did not know that it would suit me to a T.
Definition of ’to a T’ [PHRASE]
You can use to a T or to a tee to mean perfectly or exactly right. For example, if something suits you to a T, it suits you perfectly. If you have got an activity or a skill down to a T, you have succeeded in doing it exactly right.
“He described the house to a T, and the room where she was – even that she’d a bruise on her face.”
Fraser, Anthea DEATH SPEAKS SOFTLY
“Since my problem is keeping my weight up and not down, this suited me to a T and I reserved a table for eight o’clock.”
Gagman, Maurice DOUBTFUL MOTIVES
“He had purchased Final Exit, following to a T the directives in the book.”
French, Vivian &Fisher, Chris (illustrator)
The Dictionary of Lost Words is a historical fiction set across 1882- 1928 and tells the story of Esme, who lives alone with her father, a lexicographer, working with a team on the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Based on real characters and places, the story gives a fascinating account of the way the dictionary came into being.
The story captures an understanding of the beauty and importance of words and also pays tribute to the efforts and convictions of the suffragettes who fought for women’s rights at the turn of the twentieth century.
Words and feminism. Needless to say, I loved it.
When I was a teenager, my Dad gave me the giant dictionary that lived at the bottom of our kitchen buffet. It had been in his family for several generations and he said that it was only fitting that it be passed to me, the lover of words. It remains one of the best gifts I have ever received, and when I look at it I feel seen and loved.
I went to a writer’s retreat in New Norcia a few weekends ago. I sat around the lunch table with two of my favourite writers and we marveled aloud at how letters make words and words make sentences, and the places of those 26 letters, arranged as they were, could make you weep or make your heart soar.
It was the kind of conversation only word nerds appreciate. I suspect that if you got this far into my blog post without skimming or giving up, you are such a person. And I think you will love, The Dictionary of Lost Words.