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The Broken Teaglass    by Emily Arsenault order for
Broken Teaglass
by Emily Arsenault
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2011 (2009)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Emily Arsenault's debut novel, The Broken Teaglass, is a literary puzzler centered on workers at the Samuelson Company, 'the oldest and most revered name in American dictionaires.' There, new young editorial assistant/lexicographer Billy Webb and his attractive co-worker Mona Minot stumble upon a series of citations from The Broken Teaglass, a book that does not exist.

These quotations hint at a crime involving past Samuelson employees, but they're discovered out of sequence, obscuring the message. Intrigued, Billy and Mona piece them together over time and, as they do, readers learn their own histories and who they truly are. The story is not, at its heart, a mystery, but rather an exploration of workplace relationships, past and present, of 'life's complexities', and of words and their meanings.

There is a corpse in The Broken Teaglass, and there is a crime, but neither is what one expects at the beginning. Nor is the motivation of the citations' author. In addition to enlightening readers on the meanings of words from maven to schlub, The Broken Teaglass reminds us to take no-one at face value.

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