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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

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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 June 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, July 16 2004
By 
Alex Frantz (San Leandro, ca USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fun Victorian satire, June 20 2004
By 
Lacey Savage (Ottawa, Canada) - See all my reviews
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Period piece, mystery, sci-fi, and a pinch of romance., May 7 2004
By 
C. Han "churl" (East Lansing, MI) - See all my reviews
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Time lag, extinct cats and jumble sales; oh my!, Feb. 27 2004
By 
C. DeMario "crystalg75" (Drexel Hill,PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
All Ned Henry wants is a nap. About a two week long nap. But Lady Schrapnell won't let him, in fact she is the reason for the exhaustion--sending him to jumble sales and various time jumps all to find some hideously ugly bird stump for her rebuilt Cathedral. So Ned is sent to Victorian England for a little R&R only to find himself right in the biggest mystery of them all.
"To Say Nothing of the Dog" is a hard book to classify. Equal parts sci-fi, mystery and a little romance thrown in, you find yourself completely engrossed in the minutiae of England; as long as you can wrap your noodle around time travel, time lag, incontunity and self-corrections.
You'll love the characters from Mrs. Kindle (the lovely wet naid a very groggy Ned sees), Terrence, Tossie, Professor Peddick and more. Despite trying to correct history and the future, Ned manages to get a bit of sleep, despite sharing the bed with a kitty Princess Arjumand and bulldog Cyril; and manages the treasure dig at the jumble sale; and manages to get the girl.
This is truly a fun, quirky, unique novel sure to make you laugh and cheer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I Can't Say Enough About "To Say Nothing", Feb. 25 2004
By 
Ashley Lambert-Maberly (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
What a marvelous romp!
Of course, I'm a sci-fi fan who loves Victorian novels and prefers well-written works in the comic idiom, so this book is about as up-my-personal-alley as one can get.
If you're coming to this book from Willis' other work you should know that it's really quite different--it's really very funny, unlike her brilliantly moving Doomsday book--and if you're moving on from her earlier, slighter, lighter books, you should know this is much, much better, a fully mature classic of its genre.
The style, despite the Victorian setting of much of the novel, it more Edwardian in its humour (Wodehouse, Benson) than Victorian (Dickens, for example). The sci-fi components are more fi than sci, so it's not really worth reading if that's your sole interest in this book.
The characters are well-drawn and differentiated, the plot's constantly absorbing, the satire on Victorian England astonishingly clever, and it's really quite moving as well. It's worth reading just for the symptoms of time lag (I know several people who seem to perpetually suffer from this condition!) A joy throughout.
Note: a 3 star ranking from me is actually pretty good; I reserve 4 stars for tremendously good works, and 5 only for the rare few that are or ought to be classic; unfortunately most books published are 2 or less.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Screwball comedy and Chaos theory in the Victorian era, Jan. 3 2004
By 
J. Fuchs "jax76" (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
Connie Willis' books tend to combine her love of history, literature, chaos theory and Preston Sturges-type screwball comedies to varying effect. In "To Say Nothing of the Dog," her sort-of-squel to "The Doomsday Book," she finally perfects the combination. Following the format of Victorian era books such as Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)", from which she takes the books name, Connie takes us on a romp through time to locate an urn called the Bishop's Bird Stump, which a wealthy American crackpot wants for her true-to-the-tiniest-detail 22nd century reconstruction of Coventry Cathedtral, which was bombed during World War II. But a time traveller coming back from the Victorian era has made a critical and previously thought impossible mistake by bringing something back through with her, something that must be returned or the entire space time conintinuum might fall apart.
Ned Henry is sent back to the Victorian era to rest and recover from a bad case of time lag, and to return the object before it's absend can rip apart the fabric of time and causality. But almost from the moment of his arrival, things go wrong, and Ned and the beautiful time-travelling Verity have to think on their feet, while juggling an overbearing Victorian matricarch, a possibily murderous butler, thieving mediums, a bulldog, a cat that likes exotic fish, and Verity's ditzy "cousin" Tossie, an ideal example of Victorian womanhood and the nexus around whom everything turns.
History, science, math, poetry, chaos theory, time travel and animal husbandry all come together in a terribly clever way to help Ned and Verity solve a mystery, while several young loves blossom in spite of a host of obstacles. A clever, engaging and literate adventure that just gets better everytime I read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious time travel story, Dec 18 2003
By 
L O'connor (richmond, surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
Ned Henry, a time traveller from the 2050s, is reluctantly involved in a project to recreate old Coventry Cathedral (obliterated by the Germans during WW2). He has the task of finding the Bishop's Bird Stump, a massive tasteless monstrosity which is vital to the restoration plans. He finds himself obliged to return to Victorian England to help out Verity, another time traveller who has accidentaly brought a cat forward to the 21st century(cats having become extinct). His return to Victorian England causes a lot of complications, including a Victorian girl, Tossie, getting engaged to the wrong man and thus being in danger of changing history. This is avery funny story with a complex, ingenious plot. Tossie, the frivolous affected Victorian maiden is a particularly amusing character, I personally thought she'd probably bea lot more fun to be married to than the other rather priggish young women in the story. Also I thought the Bishop's Bird Stump sounded absolutely wonderful, I'd love to have one in my house. See if you can guess the identity of 'Mr C.' before it is revealed. I dropped my first copy of this book in the bath and completely ruined it so I had to order a second one, but it was well worth it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First class blend of sci-fi and comedy, March 28 2003
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
I thought that this was an excellent book, both imaginative and original, a perfect blend of sci-fi and comedy. Not to be taken too seriously, it none-the-less creates a story complex enough to keep you interested throughout, yet remains both light and pleasurable to read.
The story centres on the journey of Ned Henry into the Victorian era with a task that he can't quite remember, and which results in him attempting to blend in and do as little damage to the past while he tries to find out exactly what he's meant to be doing and why. As the story unfurls you realise that it isn't quite as simple as you first expected, and Willis' notion of time as a self-correcting force that attempts to remove damage to the timeline by using the hapless time travellers to alter key events is truly inspired.
Anyone wanting hardcore sci-fi may be dissapointed, but the book is light-hearted and funny and doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't. In my opinion there is just the correct blend of science fiction intermingled with a breezy and witty story of love, cats and destiny. My only criticism is the strange need the book seems link itself to Three Men in a Boat. Aside from being set in the same time and JK Jerome lived and supposedly took his river journey, it has nothing to do with it, and is certainly a strong enough story to do without it. Overall, though, it is a first rate book. Read and enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First class blend of sci-fi and comedy, March 28 2003
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
I thought that this was an excellent book, both imaginative and original, a perfect blend of sci-fi and comedy. Not to be taken too seriously, it none-the-less creates a story complex enough to keep you interested throughout, yet remains both light and pleasurable to read.
The story centres on the journey of Ned Henry into the Victorian era with a task that he can't quite remember, and which results in him attempting to blend in and do as little damage to the past while he tries to find out exactly what he's meant to be doing and why. As the story unfurls you realise that it isn't quite as simple as you first expected, and Willis' notion of time as a self-correcting force that attempts to remove damage to the timeline by using the hapless time travellers to alter key events is truly inspired.
Anyone wanting hardcore sci-fi may be dissapointed, but the book is light-hearted and funny and doesn't pretend to be anything it isn't. In my opinion there is just the correct blend of science fiction intermingled with a breezy and witty story of love, cats and destiny. My only criticism is the strange need the book seems link itself to Three Men in a Boat. Aside from being set in the same time and JK Jerome lived and supposedly took his river journey, it has nothing to do with it, and is certainly a strong enough story to do without it. Overall, though, it is a first rate book. Read and enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ". . . a harmless, necessary cat", March 15 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Mass Market Paperback)
"To Say Nothing of the Dog" is set in the same near-future world as Connie Willis' "Doomsday Book", a 21st century England where time travel is a nearly routine tool for historical research. A team of historians are set to the task of researching the Coventry Cathedral so that it can be reconstructed accurately, right down to the elusive Bishop's Bird Stump. The time travel "net" they use has safeguards built-in to prevent historical incongruities from occuring. But when when Verity, one of the historians, rescues a nearly drowned cat and brings it back to the present, she creates an incongruity -- or does she? And it's Ned's job to fix the incongruity, but how can he when he's so time-lagged from his other missions that he can't remember what he's supposed to do or where he's supposed to go?
It's a delightful romp through Victorian England, contriving to get the the right people to the right place at the right time and falling in love with the right people (we hope!) -- to say nothing of the dog.
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To Say Nothing of the Dog
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Mass Market Paperback - Dec 1 1998)
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