This story takes a while to get going, but stick with it, as it is the best audible book I have listened to with only one exception (The Company). But this story has better characters and is recommended for both Science Fiction fans as well as those who enjoy history. Indeed, this story has the same historical depth and feeling as Ken Follett's The Pillars of Earth. The reader is great and adds much to the quality of the experience. This is Connie Willis' best book. After the first third, you will not be able to put it down, and skipping work to listen to it is compulsory.
I really enjoyed this book. Although it started a little slowly, I became totally absorbed in the two worlds, staying in my car once I reached home after work, not wanting to stop listening. The characters -especially Colin, Kivrin, Dunworthy, Agnes and Father Roche were well thought out, and the relationship between Kivrin and Agnes was very special. Christmas Eve, with the beautiful night, and the feasting: the suspense kept on building. The book ended almost too suddenly, and I was left wanting to know more. A good sign perhaps. I enjoyed the narration - Jenny Sterlin. Well worth listening to.
Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.
This book is a Medieval cliff-hanger. It rings true to an English major and history buff. It switches between centuries very well. It is full of maddeningly slow procedures, difficulties, barriers, enforcers of rules, people (and cows) who only get in the way, who don't know or won't say. I loved all the different characters of all ages in both centuries and an appreciation of each person's life fitting into the whole story. Do not listen on a rainy day, especially if you are depressed already; and try to have some knitting to do or you might bite your fingernails. While the book has descriptions of rare beauty and magnificent fine character and noble acts, it is also not really a pleasant journey. With less than hour to go, there are still miles to cover in the snow and people to find. A beautifully crafted story, but unlike many really good reads, you're quite relieved when it's over. And I am sure I will listen again. P.S. Nobody milked the cow.
knitting and listening to Audible = perfect way to spend time!
I downloaded this book after hearing an interview on Audible. I was very pleased with my selection and found it hard to stop listening! Both the writer and the reader made the characters and place come alive.
If you like history, even if the Middle Ages isn't your area of expertise, you will like this story.
This is an incredible book, capable of bringing smiles and tears (often within the same few pages). It is not for everyone since the story it tells is horrific but the humanity of the characters and the gentle bits of humor ameliorate the horror of the black death and the epidemic in the future plot. I read it two months ago and it still haunts me. I can feel the warm breath of the characters breathing down my neck and they are never far from my thoughts. She is a masterful writer. The awards for this book are well-deserved. Just don't read it while depressed.
I am a blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.
I was constantly of two minds while reading this book. The segments set in the 14th Century were engrossing, vibrant, explorations into a wonderful if harsh world, looked forward to and cherished. The portion set in the 21st Century however, dragged, full of comparatively mundane detail and an improbably bumbling cast of characters. Some mild spoilers follow.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that there are essentially two stories going on; a science fiction tale in which Mr. Dunworthy tries to overcome numerous obstacles to rescue a lost time traveler, not least being a "modern" epidemic, and a historical recounting of one village's fate during the Black Death, as observed by the young Kivrin. Being two very distinct settings, I can say they appear to have aged differently. I find it odd now to read contemporary sci-fi stories that include things like blogging, but here find that I'm equally conscious of snags that date a work including a near future world that fails to include developments like ubiquitous wireless communication. I always try to put such nitpicks out of my mind, but can you imagine someone like a major university head completely disappearing from the grid for weeks at a time in the present day? There is also the series of unfortunate events that leads the book's major crisis to occur in the first place, but your suspension of disbelief may vary on these points.
I really did not find anything overly remarkable about the narration; it was very good overall, but could be slow, leading me to increase playback speed.
With all of that said, the reason why I enthusiastically recommend this book can be summed up in one word, Kivrin. While Dunworthy's tale is largely mired in overcoming bureaucratic resistance and a telephone system designed by Satan, Kivrin is discovering the reality of Medieval England, how much harder it was in ways neglected by those who made it their business to "study" it, but more importantly, that it was a time in which real people lived, worked, hoped, and died. The modern influenza epidemic provides contrast. While trained medical personnel in the 2050s stop showing up to work, a priest in a 1348 English village tirelessly tends the dying and rings the bell to ensure the salvation of the dead. While those quarantined in 2054 bicker and grumble, the female head of a noble family seeking refuge in the country takes in Kivrin who appears to her to be a sick girl with no memory of her past. It's easy to see Dunworthy taking a shine to being Kivrin's tutor; both have keen minds, a need to do what's right, as well as almost too much fatalism balanced by an ability to quickly adapt. And both wield a delightful gift for sarcasm. I felt true sympathy for her as she struggled to cope with the underlying assumptions of her world suddenly unraveling, reshaping, and perhaps leaving her stranded in a world not her own, and when the girl Dunworthy thought looked too young to cross a street on her own was able to live up to a poor priest's prayers for divine assistance.
Like other reviewers, I was sad for Kivrin in the end, and that my time with her, Dunworthy too I suppose, had come to a close.
I am a Connie Willis fan but it must be said that she does tend to send her characters off on wild goose chases that can go on too long. The Doomsday book is no exception. The plot develops in two time periods, the early 14th century and the mid 21st century. The story line in the 14th century is fascinating and absorbing and beautifully written. The story line in the 21st century is the one with all the wild goose chases after missing people and countless misunderstandings of vital clues about "what went wrong." This is not helped by the fact that Connie Willis's depiction of the year 2054 does not include mobile phones or the internet so there is endless frustration caused by a land line system that does not seem to have developed beyond the 1950s. Add this to the buffoonery of some two dimensional characters and it all gets a bit tedious. There were times when I actually groaned each time the story went back to the 21st century plot.
That said, the last third of the book was gripping and very difficult to stop listening to. Connie Willis took me into the story and I just wanted to stay there as she pulled all the threads together.
If the book was shorter by a third, it would have been brilliant and the last third of the book, almost made up for the tedium of the 21st century. Almost.
I liked this book so much that I got two other books from the same author: "To Say Nothing of the Dog," and "Blackout." The narration is excellent, and I would be happy to get another book by the same narrator.
I was spellbound for the whole 20 some odd hours of listening to this book. At first I thought I was going to have a problem with the British accent, but after a few hours I marveled at the talent of the narrator to make me believe it was different characters. This was just so interesting and well written I couldn't wait to listen to it each day on my morning commute. It was a very sad day when it was finished and I didn't have it to look forward to any more.
You can't go wrong with this book! Amazing!!!
retired litigation lawyer; I read history; historical fiction; literary fiction. Narrator ++ important. Story equally so
previous reviews seem to either love this book, or find it to be overwritten. I fall closer to the latter.
There were elements that were very good. The narrator is excellent, superb. The amount of detail that Willis gives for the preparation of time travel was, at first, intriguing and unique. The story does have imagination.BUT, a big but, the length of the book, ( and I mean how long she takes to tell the story, not the length per se) and the unnecessary ( often boring) detail, and meanderings off the main trail, made it very tedious to get to the end. I finished it only because of two reasons. One, well, I'm OCD about these things. Two, the latter portion of the book got considerably more interesting than the former.
I recommended only if you have lots [and lots] of patience with the developing story. Otherwise, a pass.