Review and Blog Tour for The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault

12:49 AM

The Broken Teaglass
by Emily Arsenault

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553807331
ISBN-13: 978-0553807332

The dusty files of a venerable dictionary publisher . . . a hidden cache of coded clues . . . a story written by a phantom author . . . an unsolved murder in a gritty urban park–all collide memorably in Emily Arsenault’s magnificent debut, at once a teasing literary puzzle, an ingenious suspense novel, and an exploration of definitions: of words, of who we are, and of the stories we choose to define us.

In the maze of cubicles at Samuelson Company, editors toil away in silence, studying the English language, poring over new expressions and freshly coined words–all in preparation for the next new edition of the Samuelson Dictionary. Among them is editorial assistant Billy Webb, just out of college, struggling to stay awake and appear competent. But there are a few distractions. His intriguing coworker Mona Minot may or may not be flirting with him. And he’s starting to sense something suspicious going on beneath this company’s academic facade.

Mona has just made a startling discovery: a trove of puzzling citations, all taken from the same book, The Broken Teaglass. Billy and Mona soon learn that no such book exists. And the quotations from it are far too long, twisting, and bizarre for any dictionary. They read like a confessional, coyly hinting at a hidden identity, a secret liaison, a crime. As Billy and Mona ransack the office files, a chilling story begins to emerge: a story about a lonely young woman, a long-unsolved mystery, a moment of shattering violence. And as they piece together its fragments, the puzzle begins to take on bigger personal meaning for both of them, compelling them to redefine their notions of themselves and each other.

Charged with wit and intelligence, set against a sweetly cautious love story, The Broken Teaglass is a tale that will delight lovers of words, lovers of mysteries, and fans of smart, funny, brilliantly inventive fiction.


How did a guy like me end up in a place like this?

Excellent question. It’s the very question that ran through my mind on my first day on the job, and for many weeks hence. How the hell did I get a job at the offices of Samuelson Company, the oldest and most revered name in American dictionaries? In the end, this might strike you as the greater mystery—greater than the one I’d later find in the company’s dusty files: How does a clod like me end up in training to be a lexicographer?

Now that you’ve paused to look up lexicographer, are you impressed? Are you imagining lexicographers as a council of cloaked, wizened men rubbing their snowy-white beards while they consult their dusty folios? I’m afraid you might have to adjust your thinking just a little. Imagine instead a guy right out of college—a guy who says yup, and watches too much Conan O’Brien. Imagine this guy sitting in a cubicle, shuffling through little bits of magazine articles, hoping for words like boink and tatas to cross his desk and spice up his afternoons.

Don’t get me wrong. When I first got the job, I was pretty excited. I’d been starting to doubt my employability, since I’d majored in philosophy. Admittedly, I’d applied for publishing jobs on a whim, having heard some English majors talk about it. No one at the big New York companies bit at my résumé, but someone at Samuelson must have liked all the A’s on my transcript in heady-seeming topics like Kant and Kierkegaard, and they called me just in time—just as I was starting to thumb through pamphlets about the Peace Corps and teaching English in Japan. My interview was with one Dan Wood, a pale, bearded middle-aged guy who didn’t really seem to know how to conduct an interview. He mostly just described the defining process quietly, peering at me occasionally as if trying to gauge my reaction. I guess I didn’t make any funny faces, because two days later Dan called me to offer the job.

Excerpted from The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault Copyright © 2009 by Emily Arsenault. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


“Not since A.S. Byatt’s Possession have I come across such a fascinating secret history as the one hidden within the pages of The Broken Teaglass, and the secret histories we all carry inside us.”Christopher Barzak’s blog

“This debut novel has a delightful premise, crisply drawn characters, and a subtle sense of humor.”Booklist

“…an absorbing, offbeat mystery–meets–coming-of-age novel that’s as sweet as it is suspenseful.”Publishers Weekly

Emily Arsenault has worked as a lexicographer, an English teacher, a children’s librarian, and a Peace Corps volunteer. She wrote The Broken Teaglass to pass the long, quiet evenings in her mud brick house while living in rural South Africa. She now lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband. You can visit Emily Arsenault’s website at

Join Emily Arsenault, author of the fiction book, The Broken Teaglass (Delacorte Press, Sept. 09), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in October on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

Emily Arsenault’s THE BROKEN TEAGLASS VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR ‘09 will officially begin on Oct. 5 and end on Oct. 30. You can visit Emily’s blog stops at during the month of October to find out more about this great book and talented author!

I loved this book! First of all the dialogue is smart and funny. The story itself is offbeat, quirky, funny and smart. For those of us who love words, who hate to see words misspelled and misused what could be better than a story set at a company that makes dictionaries?

One of the biggest reasons I love this story is that it doesn't 'dumb down' for the reader. The writing is crisp, sharp and snappy and not overly done. I've read so many books that are overly wordy to the point of being pretentious. This isn't one of those types of books.

I love the fact that the book is set in the midst of a publisher of dictionaries. How many times have we held them in our hands and used them without any thought as to what went into the writing of one? I think I somehow always thought of the folks that did as crusty, dusty old professor types.

Another thing that I liked was that the characters didn't immediately fall in love with each other. That seems to be almost the 'formula' now for so many murder/mystery/suspense novels. Honestly, when I read mysteries I want a hot story, not hot sex between the characters...(sorry...digressing I know!) I had to laugh at Billy's dilemma at not knowing whether waking Mona up before he left was too intimate or not. Very refreshing, for this reader at least.

To wrap up this very blatant book love fest, I thought the book was quirky, smart and funny. I found it to be a refreshing new voice that I can't wait to hear from again!

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotions, Delacorte Press, and the author for sending me this great book to review!

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