Book Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

“The trunk beneath Lizzie’s bed began to feel the weight of all the letters and words.

“No shells or stones. Nothing pretty,” Lizzie said when I opened it one afternoon. “Why do you collect all this paper, Essymay?”

“It’s not the paper I’m collecting, Lizzie; it’s the words.”

Pip Williams, The Dictionary of Lost Words

Title: The Dictionary of Lost Words
Author: Pip Williams
Genres: Historical Fiction, Feminism
Pages: 376 (Hardcover)
Published: March 31st, 2020

My Rating: ★★★★★
Read: 3/15/2022 – 3/30/2022


Such a lovely book! I adore stories that follow an individual character’s life and journey. This one was so well done. The first part of the story was definitely my favorite. Esme was a fascinating child. Once she was older my interest in her started to wane, but I really loved reading about her friendship with Lizzie and then the story progressing into wartime. I’ve never given any thought to the creation of the dictionary before. The research seemed very thorough including a timeline at the end of the book. Everything came full circle.


I felt transported into another world despite it being realistic fiction. The Scriptorium looked so grand in my mind. The amount of detail was perfect. I don’t like when books over-describe because I like to create what the setting looks like myself.

Another thing I found interesting was the vagueness of a lot of Esme’s life. We were told just enough (for example, her time at boarding school) to know things happened, but oftentimes weren’t told exactly what or how things played out. I enjoy that kind of writing because it makes me feel more involved in the story.

As much as I enjoyed Esme’s story (most of the time), I came away loving Lizzie the most. She was Esme’s rock from the very beginning. I would love to read a book about her life (especially her childhood) more in-depth.

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