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The Bookbinder of Jericho

by Pip Williams

Series: OUP Stories (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5883341,217 (4.03)32
"It is 1914, and as the war draws the young men of Britain away to fight, women must keep the nation running. Two of those women are Peggy and Maude, twin sisters who live on a narrowboat in Oxford and work in the bindery at the university press. Ambitious, intelligent Peggy has been told for most of her life that her job is to bind the books, not read them-but as she folds and gathers pages, her mind wanders to the opposite side of Walton Street, where the female students of Oxford's Somerville College have a whole library at their fingertips. Maude, meanwhile, wants nothing more than what she has: to spend her days folding the pages of books in the company of the other bindery girls. She is extraordinary but vulnerable, and Peggy feels compelled to watch over her. Then refugees arrive from the war-torn cities of Belgium, sending ripples through the Oxford community and the sisters' lives. Peggy begins to see the possibility of another future where she can educate herself and use her intellect, not just her hands. But as war and illness reshape her world, her love for a Belgian soldier-and the responsibility that comes with it-threaten to hold her back."--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Quite a good novel set in Oxford during WWI, focused on the women of the Oxford University Press bindery. Enjoyed it very much, and will need to go back and read the author's previous works, now. ( )
  JBD1 | Jun 24, 2024 |
"Courage is found not in the absence of fear, but in the resolve to persist despite it."

"To read is to travel, to explore worlds unseen and understand lives unlived."

"Books are like people; they have the power to change the world, one mind at a time."

The Bookbinder of Jericho covered a period of time (during and after World War I) and a location (Oxford University Press bindery) that I didn't know much about. Peggy's story as she navigates desires, her place in the world (working-class woman in a rapidly changing world), and looking after her sister Maud was at times exciting and at other times sad. I found myself regularly looking up more information on bookbinding, which was extra interesting. ( )
  eesti23 | Jun 9, 2024 |
Set in World War I, this story follows the lives of twin sisters Peggy and Maude. Their mother died while they were in their teens and Peggy feels an obligation to take care of Maude, who is a bit slow.

Their mother heavily influenced both girls and because of that Peggy developed a love of reading. At the bindery, she slips all the damaged pages into her pockets to take home and read. She also longs to further her education, but her working class income doesn’t allow for that.

During this time, wounded soldiers from Belgium seek refuge in their community and the sisters join other women to do their part to help the wounded men. Peggy begins a friendship with one of the men that develops into a romance, leaving her to make a choice between marriage or an education.

This is a story with wonderful characters and a look into the lives of the women during WWI and they manage to make their lives better in spite of the hardships that war brings.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine for allowing me to read an advance copy.

I am pleased to offer my honest review and recommend this book to other readers. ( )
  tamidale | May 17, 2024 |
Bookbinder [of Jericho] by Pip Williams

BIBLIOGRAPHIC DETAILS:
-Print: COPYRIGHT ©: August 1, 2023; ISBN 9780593600443; PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books; PAGES: 448; UNABRIDGED (Hardcover Info from Goodreads)
-Digital: COPYRIGHT ©: July 25, 2023; ISBN: 0593600444; PUBLISHER: Ballantine Books; PAGES: 446; UNABRIDGED. (Kindle Edition Info from Amazon)
*Audio: COPYRIGHT ©: July 25, 2023; PUBLISHER: Random House Audio; DURATION: 13 hours and 37 minutes; Unabridged; (Audiobook Info from Amazon/Audible)
-Feature Film or tv: No.

SERIES: It’s not identified as such, but shares the universe of the “Dictionary of Lost Words”. One could almost say while reading that book, “meanwhile, . . .” for this one—mind you, this one expands that universe.

MAIN CHARACTERS: (Not comprehensive)
Margaret (Peggy) Jones – Protagonist – Folder at Clarendon Press
Maude Jones – Folder at Clarendon Press; Peggy’s identical twin sister – has autistic characteristics – not identified as such
Louise (Lou) – Folder at Clarendon Press
Mrs. Hogg – Manages the folding in the bindery at Clarendon Press
Mrs. Stoddard – Part of the management at Clarendon press
Mr. Hart – Controller at Clarendon Press
Tilda – Former actress; volunteer nurse; Peggy’s friend via her deceased mom
Bastiaan – Belgian soldier
Lot (sp?) – Belgian refugee
Gareth – Compositor at the Clarendon Press
Gwen Brittain – Student at Sommerville / Oxford; Peggy’s friend
Jack Rountree – Peggy and Maude’s neighbor on the canal; apprenticed compositor at Clarendon Press; Army recruit
Rosie Rountree – Jack’s mother; neighbor to Peggy and Maude
Oberon Rountree – Jack’s father
Old Mrs. Rountree – Rosie’s mother-in-law
Mr. Cannon – Press secretary at Clarendon Press

SUMMARY/ EVALUATION:
-SELECTED: The title didn’t sound all that enticing, but then neither had “Dictionary of Lost Words” as a novel. I selected it because I had so enjoyed the “Dictionary of Lost Words” that I figured this would likely also be great—it was.
-ABOUT: A young lady, Peggy, working at the Clarendon Press folding sections of books for binding alongside her somewhat mentally compromised twin sister, for whom, since their mother passed, Peggy has felt responsible for. She longs to be a writer, but not only are women discouraged from acquiring an education, so is anyone of her station. Besides, there’s Maude to consider.
Opportunities and people enter her life that enrich, yet complicate it.
-OVERALL OPINION: I liked it as well as it’s predecessor, "Dictionary of Lost Words". It’s informative as to history and heart-warming.

AUTHOR:
From Bookbrowse:
“Pip Williams was born in London, grew up in Sydney, and now lives in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia with her family and an assortment of animals. She has spent most of her working life as a social researcher, studying what keeps us well and what helps us thrive, and she is the author of One Italian Summer, a memoir of her family's travels in search of the good life, which was published in Australia to wide acclaim. Based on her original research in the Oxford English Dictionary archives, The Dictionary of Lost Words is her first novel.”

NARRATOR:
Annabelle Tudor (From Starnow)
“Melbourne based actor represented by Ian White Management. Graduate of Federation University Australia’s BA (Acting), grad. 2016. Recent credits include Puffs (original and touring Australian company), Hamlet with the Australian Shakespeare Company and As You Like It with the Melbourne Shakespeare Company.”
Upon registering at first listen that it was a different reader than “Dictionary of Lost Words” I was disappointed, but quickly got over it. This reader is every bit as good, and I will be seeking out other books she has read.

GENRE:
Historical Fiction; Biographical Fiction; Women’s Fiction

TIME FRAME:
Early 20th Century

LOCATION:
England: Jericho; Somerville; Oxford

SUBJECTS:
Bookbinding; Education; Economic classes; Oxford University; Twins; Autism; WWI; Belgium; Soldiers; Hospitals; Narrow Boats; Canal life; College Examination; Loss

DEDICATION:
“For my sister, Nicola”

SAMPLE QUOTATION:
Excerpt From “Before”
“Scraps. That’s all I got. Fragments that made no sense without the words before or the words after.
We were folding “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and I’d scanned the first page of the editor’s preface a hundred times. The last line on the page rang in my mind, incomplete and teasing. “I have only ventured to deviate where it seemed to me that . . . “
“Ventured to deviate”. My eye caught the phrase each time I folded a section.
“Where it seemed to me that . . .”
That what? I thought. Then I’d star on another sheet.
First fold: “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare”. Second fold: “Edited by WJ Craig.” Third fold: “ventured to” bloody “deviate.”
My hand hovered as I read that last line and tried to guess at the rest.
WJ Craig changed Shakespeare, I thought. Where it seemed to him that . . .
I grew desperate to know.
I glanced around the bindery, along the folding bench piled with quires of sheets and folded sections. I looked at Maude.
She couldn’t care less about the words on the page. I could hear her humming a little tune, each fold marking time like the second hand of a clock. Folding was her favourite job, and she could fold better than anyone, but that didn’t stop mistakes. Folding tangents, Ma used to call them. Folds of her own design and purpose. From the corner of my eye, I’d sense a change in rhythm. It was easy enough to reach over, stay her hand. She understood. She wasn’t simple, despite what people thought. And if I missed the signs? Well, a section ruined. It could happen to any of us with the slip of the bonefolder. But we’d notice. We’d put the damaged section aside. My sister never did. And so I had to.
Keep an eye.
Watch over.
Deep breath.
Dear Maude. I love you, I really do. But sometimes . . . This is how my mind ran.
Already I could see a folded section in Maude’s pile that didn’t sit square. I’d remove it later. She wouldn’t know, and neither would Mrs. Hogg. There’d be no need for tutting.
The only thing that could upset the applecart at that moment was me.
If I didn’t find out why WJ Craig had changed Shakespeare, I thought I might scream. I raised my hand.
‘Yes, Miss Jones?’
‘Lavatory, Mrs. Hogg.’
She nodded.”

RATING:.
5

STARTED READING – FINISHED READING
10-8-2023 to 10-16-2023 ( )
  TraSea | Apr 29, 2024 |
This is another well-researched feminist historical fiction by English Australian author Pip Williams. It is a sequel to, or a companion volume to The Dictionary of Lost Words, set in Oxford during WW1.

Peggy and her twin sister Maude work as bindery girls at the Oxford University Press and live aboard a ramshackle canal boat Calliope, as full of books as a floating library. Peggy loves reading and dreams of attending University, although this seems an impossibility for a girl, particularly one brought up very much as “town” rather than “gown.” Maude is never given a diagnosis in the book, but possibly has some form of autism. She loves origami and struggles to express herself other than repeating fragments she has heard. The war brings many changes and new people into their lives including the very damaged Belgian refugee Lotte, the wounded Bastiaan and the high society Gwen. There are also letters from the front, including from their feisty, suffragette godmother-figure Tilda.

The book gives insight into the Belgian crisis during WWI, when over 200,000 Belgians sought refuge in Britain, the influenza pandemic, and the ins and outs of how to bind a book (probably far too much detail on the latter).

I loved the descriptions of the relationship between Maude and Peggy, and its changing dynamic. This book told a good story, although it was very slow moving in parts and tending to get bogged down in minutiae. It was good, but not as stunning as the reviews make out, and not as impacting as The Dictionary of Lost Words. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 10, 2024 |
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Scraps. That's all I got. Fragments that made no sense without the words before or the words after.

We were folding The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and I'd scanned the first page of the editor's preface a hundred times. The last time on the page rang in my mind, incomplete and teasing, I have only ventured to deviate where it seem to me that...
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"It is 1914, and as the war draws the young men of Britain away to fight, women must keep the nation running. Two of those women are Peggy and Maude, twin sisters who live on a narrowboat in Oxford and work in the bindery at the university press. Ambitious, intelligent Peggy has been told for most of her life that her job is to bind the books, not read them-but as she folds and gathers pages, her mind wanders to the opposite side of Walton Street, where the female students of Oxford's Somerville College have a whole library at their fingertips. Maude, meanwhile, wants nothing more than what she has: to spend her days folding the pages of books in the company of the other bindery girls. She is extraordinary but vulnerable, and Peggy feels compelled to watch over her. Then refugees arrive from the war-torn cities of Belgium, sending ripples through the Oxford community and the sisters' lives. Peggy begins to see the possibility of another future where she can educate herself and use her intellect, not just her hands. But as war and illness reshape her world, her love for a Belgian soldier-and the responsibility that comes with it-threaten to hold her back."--

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