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The Broken Teaglass: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Emily Arsenault
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description


In the maze of cubicles at Samuelson Company, editorial assistant Billy Webb struggles to focus while helping to prepare the next edition of a dictionary. But there are distractions. He senses that something suspicious is going on beneath this company’s academic façade. What’s more, his (possibly) flirtatious co-worker Mona Minot 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 read like a confession, coyly hinting at a hidden identity, a secret liaison, a crime. As Billy and Mona try to unearth the truth, the puzzle begins to take on bigger meaning for both of them, compelling them to redefine their notions of themselves and each other.

The Broken Teaglass is at once a literary mystery, a cautious love story, and an ingenious suspense novel that will delight fans of brilliantly inventive fiction.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Arsenault's quirky, arresting debut, two young lexicographers find clues to an old murder case hidden in the files at their dictionary company. Billy, the narrator, is a strapping recent grad with a football player's physique, a penchant for philosophy and a painful chapter in his past that he hasn't quite closed. Mona is a girls' college grad with an ambivalent relationship to her stepfather's wealth and a habit of falling for older, wiser men. The two are drawn together by tantalizing clues left—they assume by a former employee—in the company's citation files. As Billy and Mona spend more and more time hunched over the mysterious cits from a book called The Broken Teaglass, they realize the murder may involve colleagues and acquaintances who are still roaming around the office, and Billy struggles to overcome the challenges of entering the adult world and leaving his old life behind. The result is an absorbing, offbeat mystery–meets–coming-of-age novel that's as sweet as it is suspenseful. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Charming and witty are not the usual adjectives used to describe a mystery novel, but in the case of Emily Arsenault’s debut, all expectations and definitions must be relinquished. 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 ones we all carry inside us.”—Christopher Barzak, author of One for Sorrow and The Love We Share Without Knowing

“This debut novel has a delightful premise, crisply drawn characters, and a subtle sense of humor. Word nerds, too, will enjoy the peeks at the procedure of making a dictionary. . . . The very definition of a promising debut.”—Booklist

“Arsenault's quirky, arresting debut ... [is] an absorbing, offbeat mystery–meets–coming-of-age novel that's as sweet as it is suspenseful.”—Publishers Weekly

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 550 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553386530
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; 1 edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002PXFYA6
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,768 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mystery with words as characters September 29, 2009
The journal reviews have presented this book as a mystery and a romance, and someone else described it as a young-adult novel targeted at 20-somethings, but I feel that both classifications are too limited. Billy, the main character, is extremely compelling, even to this middle-aged reader, and the mystery and romance definitely do not dominate Billy's development as he negotiates his way through the first few months at his first post-collegiate job. Arsenault vividly captures the environment of cubicles and office relationships/negotiations and I was reminded of my first job after college -- of trying to make sense of the people around me and the work that was being done, but this novel has much more to offer than a glimpse at office life. The setting of the dictionary company provides the opportunity to use words as an integral part of the story - and without these words Billy's story might have been just another tale of someone "finding himself." Instead, the words of the dictionary, and of the research files, and of the characters, weave themselves in and out of various lives -- from Billy's neighbors to his officemates to the countless people who contact the dictionary company for clarification and solace - and in and out of various times, from the beginning of the dictionary to the younger days of retired employees to Billy and his peers achieving adulthood.
Yes, there is mystery, there is a touch of romance, there is twenty-something angst, but there are intriguing characters that made me think and ponder and want to read more.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable August 2, 2010
By bobsmom
This is a thoughtful, interesting story. It was on my reading list, but I was put off by some of the reviews and kept moving it to the bottom of the pile. I am so glad that it worked its way to the top! A unique setting, real characters, this story is completely devoid of cliche.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating mystery September 30, 2009
Billy Webb who just graduated from college begins working as a lexicographer at Samuelson Company publishers of an annual dictionary. Already employed there in a separate cubicle but in a similar editor assistant position is Mona Minot.

Mona begins to find some strange notes referencing a book THE BROKEN TEAGLASS. She shows her notes to Billy, but neither can find the tome. They conclude someone previously employed at Samuelson left the citations, but not why or what they refer to. As they dig deeper and begin to put meaning to the notes, they begin to believe a murder occurred and some of their cubicle mates may have been involved.

This is a fascinating mystery filled with suspense that hooks the audience who wonder along with the lead couple whether a homicide occurred and if some of the cubicle mates were involved. In some ways the story line is a coming of age transition tale as Billy struggles with the biggest life change he has ever faced having just graduated from college. Fans will enjoy this cerebral amateur sleuth as two young lexicographers search for the seemingly nonexistent BROKEN TEAGLASS.

Harriet Klausner
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Better, Could Have Been Worse November 2, 2010
This is a pretty good book overall. The plot summary has been done well in other reviews. I don't feel I wasted my time reading it--it was moderately interesting, I kind of liked some of the secondary characters a bit, the parts about how dictionaries are written was very interesting, the mystery is entertaining most of the time. Problems--sometimes it gets very draggy and runs on too long with no plot development, a weird plot twist about the main character getting cancer as a teen gets tossed in at the end with no real connection to the rest of the story, I don't care much for either of the main characters since they're passive & boring, and the final mystery is relatively disappointing after the big buildup. This was a good practice book for a new writer & I would read other books by the same author. The kernel of a very good book is here, it just gets lost in too many decorative layers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cleverly Constructed Debut Novel! July 20, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
WORD-SMITH - n. (1896): a person who works with words esp: a skillful writer

According to the above definition in "Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary", debut novelist, Emily Arsenault, is an exciting new word-smith indeed. I sensed Ms. Arsenault's deep affection for the etymology of words as her main characters, Billy Webb and his co-worker, Mona Minot discover and try to solve a murder mystery hidden randomly among the citation files of their employer, the fictional dictionary publisher, Samuelson. What reader hasn't wondered how all of those words have gotten into our dictionary, where did they first come from and how did they evolve? The author enlightens us to the process while she skillfully evolves her characters in the same articulate and painstaking manner as her word entries in her fictional dictionary. I found myself becoming very fond of some of the characters and invested in finding out What does motivate them?, What will happen to them? and Will the murder mystery be solved? Emily Arsenault teases us along while answering all of the questions above; all the while illuminating her own sardonic wit, lexicography knowledge and skilled observations of some of the quirkiest of human behaviors. I highly recommend this novel and look forward to her next with great anticipation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
a fine literary mystery novel.
Published 2 months ago by Carol Gristina
4.0 out of 5 stars Phillips has some of the best lines, and are examples of the author's...
I agree with other reviewers that the intricacies of word definitions and dictionary compiling are described very well here. Read more
Published 2 months ago by starquilt43
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read.
A riveting book in an unusual setting. Ms. Arsenault surprises me with each of her books. A great read.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging armchair mystery for the intellectual slooth - Emily...
An office.
A dictionary.
A mystery.
A bastion of quotable prose.

THE BROKEN TEAGLASS was a who-done-it for the intellectual reader. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Lori Parker
3.0 out of 5 stars I've always loved books, words
I've always loved books, words, reading... but never considered how a dictionary is created. I know new words are constantly being added as they come into common usage, but never... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Fran Milano
4.0 out of 5 stars engrossing
Could not stop parallel stories. Will read her other novels! Thoughtful and sad, interesting and unpredictable. What happens next?
Published 6 months ago by Brenda
4.0 out of 5 stars carried me through
Unexpected investigative tale. Maybe a mystery and maybe not. Thoughtful, observant, held my attention start to finish. Enjoy the ride.
Published 8 months ago by leo dymkoski
5.0 out of 5 stars A murder mystery?
Prefatory note

My wife taught elementary school for many years. She believes me when I say that I have never read nor seen the children’s book “Alexander and the... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Nico Brusso
4.0 out of 5 stars Office life with a hidden mystery
(3.5 stars) Billy has just gotten a job at Samuelson Company as an assistant working on definitions for the next version of the company's dictionary. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Michelle Boytim
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of time
Could not get into it. Didn't like the way it was written. Out of six women in my book club, only one read the whole book. It was boring, and didn't grab you attention at all.
Published 21 months ago by hel25
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More About the Author

Emily Arsenault is also the author of The Broken Teaglass and In Search of the Rose Notes. She has worked as a lexicographer, an English teacher, and a Peace Corps volunteer in rural South Africa. She now lives in Shelburne Falls, MA, with her husband.

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