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The Definition of Wind    by Ellen Block order for
Definition of Wind
by Ellen Block
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In The Definition of Wind (the sequel to The Language of Sand), Ellen Block continues her charming story of grieving lexicographer Abigail Harker. As in the first book, each chapter opens on a relevant dictionary definition of unusual words, this time ranging from anneal to zounds.

After losing her husband Paul and small son Justin to a freak fire, Abby fled to Chapel Isle where Paul had spent his childhood summers. There she rented the lighthouse caretaker's cottage (which she found in disarray) and came to terms with its ghost (a previous keeper, Mr. Jasper). She befriended locals, in particular hardware store owner Merle and café owner Ruth. And she helped the unpopular Nat Rhone after he came under suspicion in the death of a friend (their relationship was left up in the air as the story ended).

As The Definition of Wind opens, we learn that Abby has been in seclusion since the previous happenings. Now it's steamy summer on Chapel Isle which suffers its annual invasion of tourists. Abby is forced out of her funk by her toilet and phone going on the fritz (a nudge from Jasper?) She emerges to find that her secret (the loss of her loved ones) has spread and, to her dismay, Nat is talking of leaving the island. After his new gig that is - he's taking a treasure hunter to the Graveyard (aptly named for the number of sunken ships it holds) for 'a week of deep-sea diving.'

The search for sunken treasure injects mystery into the story, as do repeated episodes of arson, and attempted burglary at the lighthouse. Abby is romanced (in repeated amusingly calamitous dates) by a hot summer visitor, Tim Ulman - her friends egg her on. Independence Day looming, she has flare-ups with both Nat and Tim, and comes close to fleeing the island herself. But her friends - and a ghost - rally to her side once more, showing Abby that 'there was a lot more to life than words. Feeling them might teach her more than studying them would.'

While the plots of both episodes include both mystery and romance, the main themes are acceptance (of and from others) and community. Read both Ellen Block's novels to enjoy delightful stories, filled with quirky yet endearing characters ... and enrich your vocabulary at the same time.

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