REVIEW: THE GRAMMARIANS, BY CATHLEEN SCHINE

 

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.

My Thoughts: The story of Laurel and Daphne, identical twins, shows their lives and its ups and downs, from the extreme closeness of their childhood to the rifts that came in adulthood. The Grammarians was a story about family, about words, about the stories told by the people in a family when they’re trying to make sense of their relationships.

I loved how the big Webster dictionary given to the girls at an early age held pride of place on its own stand and came to represent the important themes of their lives. Almost like another member of their family. In the end, we come to imagine how their lives will unfold and how the rifts will heal, and what will finally bring them together again. 4.5 stars.

***

REVIEW: WILDFLOWER, BY DREW BARRYMORE

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Born into Hollywood royalty, Drew Barrymore has shown her tremendous talents, as well as how she rose above a troubled childhood.

Wildflower is the story of her trajectory, told in an anecdotal style, but not chronologically; it is complete with photos. Imagine that she has sat the reader down and shared tidbits of her life…the good, the bad, and the ugly; she doesn’t mince words. She lays it all out there, from the flaws and fears to the blessings she now enjoys with her marriage and two daughters.

Her presentation includes the lessons she has learned along the way, and she shows us her journey, including trips to India and Africa. She touches on a brief marriage…and spends more time revealing how her past experiences prepared her for the marriage she now enjoys and the in-laws she adores.

When one adds up the list of her accomplishments—from the production companies, beauty products, and wine-making—and how she then comes home to her dedication to motherhood, one must ask how she does it all. She says:

“I’ve been in trouble for saying women can’t have it all. Things have to give if you really want to raise your kids, because it is all-consuming. It’s not that you have to give everything up. That’s the great news.

“But you can’t do everything at the same time….”

So her stories and her philosophies are encouraging for women, in my opinion. Knowing how to prioritize and even compartmentalize…that’s the secret.

A delightful tome that brought some of her stories to her readers…4.5 stars.