I loved it! I can't wait to read the rest of the series. A fun romp through past and future. The narrator was excellent and the story never stopped its twists and turns.
Why did I wait so long to try this? I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish. The opening scene is a little confusing because you start "in medias res" as they say, in a scene that it takes you a bit to understand where they are and what they're up to, though you don't even get all those details immediately, some of which you slowly figure out as the story progresses.
But do not worry, all will be explained at the end, a bit like an Agatha Christie novel. And much like a Christie mystery there are mysterious happenings and information doled out along the way to give you a chance to fill in some of the story.
This book has a little of everything: SF; mystery; romance; comedy; history. And it's not a zip zip type of time travel, though there is a bit of that. The majority of the story takes place in Victorian England and has some comedy of manners that is very funny at times.
And I listened to 3 Men in a Boat first just in case it helped, but I don't think it's necessary, just added a bit to recognize a couple items when they popped up. & I have not listened to Doomsday Book which technically comes before this and it did not matter in the slightest to me. But on the strength of this I will be getting more Willis and this series, but I knew this was funny whereas the others may be more serious so wanted to try it first.
And I gave the book to a friend to read on the plane and she loved it and laughed out loud and she didn't read 3 Men nor others in this series either, so I think you can safely enjoy it.
It very much reminded me of A Confederacy of Dunces in the comic element and also in the masterful plotting, with so many threads coming together at the finale. & also the Jack Finney Time & Again and Time After Time where the time travel is only part of the story, it really is more about the characters encountered.
So if you want a mystery type novel built around time travel and victorian manners comedy here it is. If you want zipping around and hardware better go to Well's Time Machine and others. Not saying those are bad, I love Wells, but they are a different breed.
I'm not one to do reviews typically, but in this case, I feel compelled to express my opinion. The performance was poor and the book didn't draw me in. I chose this book to enjoy on a road trip, because of it's high ratings and reviews. However, early on into the book my wife and I both agreed this was a bad choice. First, the performance was poor. When reading in the first-person, the narration was so low and mumbled, it was difficult to hear. But then, when doing the other character voices, the volume rose so high, it forced us to adjust to volume. We couldn't find a suitable level for both the narration and the character dialog.
I'm not an author so I can't say really what Connie Willis could have done differently, but to me, this book is not written nearly as well as "Black out" or "All Clear" (really as one story divided into two books, they were both excellent books, I highly recommend) "To Say Nothing of the Dog" did not seem to have the character development I was hoping for, and the dialog seemed to drag on far too long on the same topic. (At one point, I fell asleep for several minutes, and when I woke up the same two characters were still arguing about the same thing)
Since this was the first performance from Steven Crossley for me, I'm willing to give him another try with a different book, just in case his performance was an exception rather than the norm.
Yes, it was a charming story.
The story was simple and playful.
I liked the book so much, I read the rest of the series and was equally pleased with Ms. Willis's other books.
I loved this book. Full of humour, great characters and laugh out loud moments from the main characters. The plot is really interesting and things move along at a great pace. A great investment
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
In Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998), 21st century historians at Oxford University use time travel to conduct eyewitness research into the pasts of their various specialties. Unfortunately for them, the wealthy and domineering Lady Schrapnell has temporarily bought their entire department by promising a vital endowment on the condition that their entire staff devotes itself to her pet project, the recreation in Oxford of Coventry Cathedral exactly as it was before being fire bombed by the Germans during World War II. Single-minded, she cares nothing for the delicate aspects of time travel, such as the condition of "time-lag," extreme fatigue and disorientation caused by too many time "drops" into the past in too quick succession, or the natural laws of "the time continuum" and "the conservation of history" that prevent historians from changing historical turning points by blocking access to the time machine-like "net" or by forcing into their time drops temporal or spatial "slippage" to different times and or places so as to avoid "parachronistic incongruities" (time paradoxes). It is ostensibly impossible to bring objects or living creatures from the past into the present, which has led big corporations to abandon the technology and yield it to academics.
Ned Henry has recently done so many drops for Lady Schrapnell that he's suffering from a bad case of time-lag, which causes him to hear the wrong words, to hallucinate, and even to fall in love at first sight with Verity Kindle, a fellow researcher. Lady Schrapnell has mobilized the Oxford staff to find the "bird stump" (an "atrocity" of Victorian art) belonging at some point to the Bishop of Coventry Cathedral, because the artifact apparently inspired her ancestor Tocelyn "Tossie" Mering to change her life for the better, and the deadline for the 21st century consecration of the "new" cathedral is rapidly approaching. Ned is sent by his teacher Mr. Dunworthy back to Victorian Oxford in June of 1888 to hide from Lady Schrapnell and to rest and recover from his time-lag and also to return a cat that Verity unthinkingly rescued from drowning and brought back with her into the 21st century, thereby risking intense and potentially far-reaching parachronistic incongruities that might cause Germany to have won WWII before the time continuum is able to repair itself. The rest of the novel follows the comically frustrating attempts of Ned and Verity to find the cat (Princess Arjumand) and to return it to the pretty and spoiled Tossie and to ensure that she marries the right man and hence that the Victorian past follows its proper course to the proper 21st century.
While Willis' earlier novel, Doomsday Book (1992), features the same 21st century Oxford University historical time traveling research center, it has a completely different mood, dealing with two horrific plagues centuries apart and being a devastating tragedy of biology, fate, and history. To Say Nothing of the Dog, by contrast, is a time travel detective comedy of manners, featuring many mysteries (Who is the mysterious "C" whom Tossie must marry? Where is the Bishop's bird stump? Just what is the true temporal incongruity and who caused it and why? What is secretary Finch's secret mission?) and references to vintage literary detectives, as well as much satire of Victorian culture and human nature. Willis' characters repeatedly mistake the meaning of their interlocutors and the nature of phenomena, making for droll conversations and scenes. The novel is laced--often wittily--with references to historical personages and events, from important battles like Waterloo, documents like Magna Carta, events like the French Revolution, and figures like Abraham Lincoln. A pair of eccentric Victorian Oxford professors are feuding over the prime movers of history, whether blind natural forces or individual human actions, with Ned figuring that it's both those mixed up with chaos theory (because the time continuum is a "chaotic system" with myriad threads linking everything up). Willis loves history, especially the Victorian era, as well as literature like that by Shakespeare, Tennyson, Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Sayers, and Lewis Carroll, and especially favors Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, from which she borrows messing about in boats on the Thames and detailed and enticing chapter sub-titles.
The novel is fun and funny, and there are some hilarious scenes, including a cutthroat croquet match, a church money-raising "fete," a contentious séance, and an appreciation of the crowded, clashing, and mawkish Christian, pagan, and historical motifs of the bishop's bird stump. However, too often I smiled rather than chuckled at Willis' constant humor and even wearied of it. Furthermore, while telling the story from Ned's point of view, she makes it too easy for the reader to divine the identity of "C," which made me impatient with Ned and Verity, who are intelligent young people. And my impatience was exacerbated by the related feeling that, no matter how much Ned and Verity believe they must correct the altered past to preserve history, after all it's only a cat, a marriage, and a bird stump. Especially during the many deliberations and explanations about time and diversions from history and incongruities and strategies for repairing them, I began muttering that finally Willis will just do whatever she wants with history and her story by having the deus ex machina time continuum correct or protect itself anyway, and To Say Nothing of the Dog should have been shorter, and I sure prefer the longer Doomsday Book, which haunted me for days after reading it
Stephen Crossley gives a great reading of the novel, full of wit and personality, and even manages to be humorously convincing when doing things like Tossie's baby talk to her cat and Mrs. Mering's hysterics.
It is an interesting take on time travel. Very witty and fun all the way through. Unlike some of the other books in this series (Blackout, and All Clear, both good) this book is light hearted and fun. You have the feeling that everything will work out in the end and all the loose ends will work themselves out.
Verity. I like the Witty come backs.
"A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” --C.S. Lewis
This is one of my favorite books to begin with, and when I listened to it instead of re-reading it, I got a whole new level of enjoyment out of it. It made me laugh, and even tear up in a couple of places--I couldn't even get myself to stop listening to it when I wasn't in the car (which is when I mostly listen to the audiobooks)!
I can't decide between Ned, Verity, Bane, or, well, any of them. All of the characters are unique and enjoyable and funny in their own way.
He has a terrific reading voice, and his sly tones and great voices made me laugh all the way through it. His reading sounded just like what I hear in my head when I am reading the book!
Yes, but then again, it's a book I always want to read in one sitting, too.
Great book! I highly recommend it--but read or listen to it AFTER Doomsday Book and BEFORE Blackout and All Clear. :)
Everytime I listen to (or read) this book I am blown away by how smart and funny Connie Willis is in her writing. You have to appreciate the subtle writing and the hints of other books she includes, including many of the classic mystery writers. After reading this for the first time I HAD to locate a copy of "Three Men in a Boat", and I'm very glad I did (also available on Audible). She also has brought to life two of the BEST animal characters in literature, I dare you not to want an English bulldog after reading this book, and, needless to say, she has captured the cat personality perfectly. But, more than the great characters, animal and human, this is a book that opens your mind to the thought that small actions can have consequences beyond our imagining. A delightful listen or read that you will return to time and again!
Great story with dry british wit and a great story that kept you engaged. If you are not a big SF fan, you will still love this book. If you have read any Woodhouse stories, these are similar but updated.
I kept remembering the things I liked about the Hitchhikers series years ago. Not wacky in the way that was, but a great entertaining read with good wit and a story you wanted to pay attention to.
The beginning of the book when the hero first returns to victorian times and isn't quite adjusted jet.