Swansby’s New Encyclopaedic Dictionary is riddled with fictitious entries known as mountweazels penned by Peter Winceworth, a man wishing to make his lasting mark back in 1899. It’s up to young intern Mallory to uncover these mountweazels before the dictionary can be digitised for modern readers.
Lost in Winceworth’s imagination – a world full of meaningless words – will Mallory finally discover the secret to living a meaningful life?
There was a great deal that I really liked about this book. It is really funny and clever in places, and I loved Mallory, the main character.
I rather liked the idea of the job she had – to find fictitious words in Swansby’s New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Words that, as we find out through flashbacks, have been placed there by lexicographer Peter Winceworth (never was a name more apt) in 1899 – a man frustrated by his work, his workmates and the world, and who wishes to make a mark on that world.
The rogue words are really good fun, and the novel is charming, unusual, witty and clever. However, sometimes the definitions go a little too far and do bog the narrative down a bit.
That said, this is an entertaining and engaging novel.