3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stitch in time
This story takes off from the same setting that Willis used in her earlier novel, "Doomsday Book", about Oxford historians who travel back in time to investigate past events and occasionally recover artifacts. But the main characters from that book aren't re-used, and the style and themes are entirely different.
This is a light novel, with elements of a...
Published on July 16 2004 by Alex Frantz
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun Victorian satire
Ned Henry has been thrown around in time from one jumble sale to the next, looking for a bizarre object named the bishop's bird stump. This is all in an effort to rebuild the Coventry Cathedral, at a time when religion is pretty much obsolete, but money buys everything. Lady Schrapnell is intent on rebuilding the Cathedral, the site where her great-great-great-grandmother...
Published on Jun 20 2004 by Lacey Savage
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stitch in time,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)This story takes off from the same setting that Willis used in her earlier novel, "Doomsday Book", about Oxford historians who travel back in time to investigate past events and occasionally recover artifacts. But the main characters from that book aren't re-used, and the style and themes are entirely different.
This is a light novel, with elements of a romance and a comedy of manners. Ned Henry is suffering from time lag, having been run ragged by Lady Schrapnell, a wealthy heiress who is providing most of the funds to keep the research going. Lady Schrapnell is a stickler for detail in her elaborate reconstruction of the Coventry Cathedral, and insists that the historians provide the Bishop's bird stump, a strikingly ugly work of art that was lost when the Cathedral was bombed in 1940.
The only way Ned can escape from Schrapnell is to go back to before she was born, so he is given a simple courier assignment to make a delivery in the Victorian era, where he can rest up for a few weeks after his task is completed. Unfortunately, Ned is too time-lagged to be able to understand his instructions, so he is left wandering about the 1880s uncertain what he is delivering to whom, and never quite aware of whether he is preserving the proper time line or undermining it. He does know that Tossie, the distant ancestress of Lady Schrapnell whose family home he is a guest in, is supposed to fall in love with her future husband in a few days, but he doesn't know who that is - only that it definitely isn't Cyril, the young gentleman he accidentally introduced to her, who is now wooing her with marked success.
The plot is complex and worked out in great detail - many apparently random details are ultimately brought together in an ending that is almost too clever. The characters, major and minor, are nicely drawn. All in all, thoroughly enjoyable.
4.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie and Doctor Who rolled up in a neat conundrum,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Bantam Spectra Book) (Kindle Edition)Fun book. Well written. Filled with trivia and non-sense. And Grand Design too. Don't be discouraged by confusion-- like all good mysteries, it needs patience.
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out Loud funny...and the story is good too!,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)Highly enjoyable time travel from futurist England to Victorian England. If you loved "Doomday Book", "Fire Watch", Blackout by Connie Willis you will love this book too! Again, this is a book I could read over and over. Time travel is certainly interesting in Connie Willis world
5.0 out of 5 stars Freaking loved this book,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)I read this book over 3 years ago, so I'm unable to provide specifics about this book. But what I can tell you is this.
1) I enjoyed the novel, so much so that I keep hoping Ms. Willis will write a sequel.
2) The book deals with time travel and Victorian England.
3) There is some subtle humour in the novel which kept my laughing here are there as I made my way through the book.
If you're in to time travel books that have a nice humours twist to them, you probably won't be disappointed in this one.
5.0 out of 5 stars A romp through history,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)The point of view character is a historian from the latter half of this century, a time when time travel is a well-known phenomenon. Instead of looking things up in books, historians go and take a look in person. A rich American widow is sponsoring the reconstruction of Coventry Cathedral exactly as it was on the night it was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in World War II, right down to the last piece of hideous Victoriana. The historian's job is to find that last piece, and determine whether it was, in fact, in the cathedral on the night of the bombing, because there's been no sign of it since.
Part of the problem is that something keeps historians from being able to get even close to the right time or place. Part of the problem is that he's been doing too many time drops, and he's badly time-lagged, so his vision is blurred, his hearing is impaired, and he's inclined to fall madly in love with the next pretty girl he meets. And part of the problem is that it seems as if somebody, contrary to what everyone "knows" about time travel, has actually managed to bring an object forward in time with them, with incalculable consequences for the space-time continuum. In other words, our hero is in a serious mess, and things just get messier and messier, the harder he tries to fix them.
The characters are all thoroughly batty. We meet characters who are absolutely fanatical about their opinions, but willing to drop all arguments at the drop of a fishing fly, we meet clergymen who attend seances, we meet a family who bought a first-class library as a status symbol, but disapprove of anybody who actually reads books, we meet Jerome K. Jerome, the author of Three Men in a Boat, to say nothing of the dog. The protagonist keeps a running score of how many Victorian cliches the other characters spout. In other words, it's a romp. (So many people had fun reading it that it won Willis the Hugo award for best novel.) It's all good fun, we get to learn a little history on the side, and the Luftwaffe get to bomb Coventry after all. To make things even more fun, right near the end, there's an idea which will make serious bibliophiles stand up and cheer.
4.0 out of 5 stars In a word: Funny!!,
By A Customer
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)A trip through time to the Victorian Era, with all its propriety and weirdness. With some extremely funny situations. I especially liked it when the time travelers all got up in the morning, expecting a good, old-fashioned Victorian English breakfast - you know, eggs, bacon, hot bread, coffee. I won't spoil it for you here, but let's just say it had nothing to do with eggs and bacon.
This is her funniest - complex, but very light-hearted.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun romp in time,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)Very enjoyable book - Connie Willis takes you on a ride through time to the Victorian Age and back. Very lighthearted, but not simple-minded. Highly recommended.
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun Victorian satire,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)Ned Henry has been thrown around in time from one jumble sale to the next, looking for a bizarre object named the bishop's bird stump. This is all in an effort to rebuild the Coventry Cathedral, at a time when religion is pretty much obsolete, but money buys everything. Lady Schrapnell is intent on rebuilding the Cathedral, the site where her great-great-great-grandmother had an epiphany when she first laid eyes on the bishop's bird stump.
On one of Ned's return trips, he runs into Verity Kindle, another time-travelling historian, and is instantly enchanted by her. Verity has a problem, however. She brought back an item through the time-travelling portal, and in doing so, could have changed the course of history forever. Now it's up to Ned and Verity to bring the item back, and straighten out any incongruities that might have resulted from her impulsive move, in order to save the world as we know it.
TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG is a humorous science fiction story, with a Victorian twist. As Ned and Verity spend a lot of their time in the Victorian era, a lot of the conversation centers around Victorian poetry and literature. English Majors will be thrilled to understand the references to some of the poetry and literary works quoted, while other reads will be left shaking their heads in wonder. The satire on the Victorian era is very well done, however, and all readers should be able to appreciate that.
The characterization is superb, which makes up for the slow-moving plot. Ms. Willis' writing style is full of British wit and humor, making this a very funny read. For fans of Ms. Willis' DOOMSDAY BOOK, this might come as a surprise, since TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG doesn't contain the same level of emotional involvement and satisfaction as the aforementioned novel. Still, a fun read if you have the patience.
5.0 out of 5 stars More to it than you might think,
By A Customer
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)What the various reviewers have said about this being a very funny science fiction romance is quite true. I would just like to add that it does actually have some serious ideas in it, though they are very subtly suggested. "God is in the details", a character says (to the annoyance of the others) near the start, and only at the very end do you realize that there is a serious point here. The book would be well worth reading just as an entertainment, but you may find it has a little more to offer than you at first realize.
5.0 out of 5 stars Period piece, mystery, sci-fi, and a pinch of romance.,
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)I've never read Connie Willis before, and getting into this book is difficult. You spend the first 50 pages trying to figure out what exactly a Bishop's Bird Stump is. However, once the ball starts rolling, the novel is engrossing. While it is billed as sci-fi, and indeed involves a healthy amount of time travelling, the book is mainly a humorous look at Victorian England and its absurdity. Willis's writing style lends itself to a sardonic humor that takes endless jabs at the prim and proper British upper crust.
This book is far more than a sci-fi version of a period piece however. There is quite a bit of mystery to it. There is an incongruity in the space-time continuum, there is history that must be corrected, and the question of the Bishop's bird stump becomes more and more confusing.
I've read a lot of sci-fi in the past, and this book is not your typical sci-fi. Willis has broken out of the sterotypical mold for science fiction, and this book enjoys a universal appeal that a lot of sci-fi lacks. I think that this novel will appeal to a wide audience, and if it sounds interesting to you, then you should give it a try.
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To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Mass Market Paperback - Dec 1 1998)
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