In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-traveling future of 2060, the setting for several of her most celebrated works, and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.
Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory, but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.
Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians' supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and 17-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own - to find three missing needles in the haystack of history.
Told with compassion, humor, and an artistry both uplifting and devastating, All Clear is more than just the triumphant culmination of the adventure that began with Blackout. It's Connie Willis' most humane, heartfelt novel yet - a clear-eyed celebration of faith, love, and the quiet, ordinary acts of heroism and sacrifice too often overlooked by history.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an introduction written and read by author Connie Willis.
Also listen to the first book, Blackout.
©2010 Connie Willis (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"By the time the three historians and Mr. Dunworthy have unraveled the mystery and arrived at the full-on, three-hanky finale, you’ll no longer be a disinterested observer. Drawn in Willis’s skillful storytelling, you’ll be back in 1941, wondering what’s about to happen next." (The Village Voice)
"Katherine Kellgren's delightful English accent is perfect for the many characters she portrays." (AudioFile)
“As vivid an evocation of England during World War II as anyone has ever written.... You’ll find here a novelist who can plot like Agatha Christie and whose books possess a bounce and stylishness that Preston Sturges might envy.” (The Washington Post)
I am a full-time artist, intrepid traveler and a voracious reader. I discovered Audible and audio books through my son Corey, who is a narrator of several Audible books.
This book is astonishing in a plethora of ways. Number one, the book is three books that total almost 24 hours of listening pleasure. Number two, the narrator, Katherine Kellgren is an incredibly talented woman. I have no idea how she managed to do so many voices believably, from two cockney brats to an English vicar to rich Brit ladies who lunch and the shopgirls who wait on them, throw in a few English pilots and a famous actor and a dozen other memorable characters and you have an amazing mix.
I gave it four stars overall simply because I believe there is sometimes too much detail supplied and a bit less might have moved things along a bit faster. I will wonder forever how Connie Willis, an American, kept so many English characters weaving in and out of the blitz and World War II England successfully. Her story board must have taken up a whole room while she was plotting things out!
This book is part history:I learned so much about World War II from a very human standpoint and several different points of view. It really changed a lot of what I thought I knew. Bravo for grounding the novel so thoroughly and completely for the reader, I really felt like I was there too.
This book is part sci fi: it deals with time travel, and here you really do need a score card to figure out who is on first and when they were there and if they will get there again. Crazy the way it successfully looped back and forth in time.
This book is part suspense novel: I wound up forcing myself to stay awake til late at night to listen to just one more chapter because I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened next.
The ending was perfect. I won't give it away except to say I didn't see it coming. I am a studio artist and this book took the place of music while I worked and it was simply wonderful.
Highly recommended listen for the intelligent and curious listener.Can't wait to see where Connie takes us next.
Quite some time ago I read the author's earlier book "To Say Nothing of the Dog ...". I thought that it was very clever and well written. Blackout and All Clear are a two book set that follow on from that earlier book. Together they are something over 40 hours. While they follow the same 'time travel' principle, and the story is still creative, I was disappointed overall for several reasons. Much of the drama in the story was brought about by several of the main characters struggling over what seems would have been very 'basic concepts' about time travel. I found it hard to believe that time traveling historians would not have previously contemplated such things long and hard. In addition, much of the complication was based on these same historians consistently lying to each other to protect each other from havings to worry. That also was hard to believe from professionals historians who should have been working together toward a common goal. In summary, this could have been much better if edited carefully into a single book at half the length with much of the excesses left out.
I rated this pair of books quite high because I found the story to be historically interesting and intellectually interesting as well. I would recommend it to anyone with enough patience to get through the entire thing. I do wonder why the author chose to break the book into two books except to increase their income (since it makes no sense to buy just one or the other title). I also agree with some other reviews that I read that the middle could have been shortened somewhat. Ironically I think some of the sections (like the sections about the Oxford team) should have included more detail. It feels as if some sections were cut by the author late in the writing of the book. Overall, however, the book was very good.
The presenter was wonderful. She did a remarkable job of American, English, Scottish and Irish accents, both male and female, both adults and juveniles.
the narrator was the reason I stuck with this flurry of factoids. I think Connie Willis' research overwhelmed the story telling. Little vignettes are well drawn and provides window in what Londoners were like but too many scattered plot lines and places . long stretches of no "conflict" not any character development for all of Blackout and most of All Clear.
Yes I think she usually delivers a tighter exciting product.
Blackout and All Clear are really one book split into 2 sections. It's a great story of the Battle of Britain, but not the best book to listen to, simply because of its length, and the endless conversations. Despite this, I learned a great deal about a subject that was never covered in school, the characters were very real and Willis is a superb storyteller. The performance was excellent, and I wouldn't hesitate to select another book by the author or reader.
Yes, it was long...I concur with past reviewers. However, what a treat to get into the world of WWII England. The characters keeping secrets from each other was a bit tedious, unbelievable and felt like a device used to further prolong the plot. Carefully, so as not to publish any spoilers, I really liked how the characters' beliefs about what was going on changed. Liked the world view that everyone has an effect, we are all connected in one way or another...the System is expanding for Good...very New Thought.
I really enjoyed most of it. Kate Kellgren does a great job with the accents, especially personifying the kids....what a crack up!
You get to enter in and vicariously experience the "home front". Well done.
Since it is a good time travel plot and I am a big fan of this subject, the book is very interesting.
On the other hand, the plot sometimes get confusing and the ideas not so logical. The worst of this book is the excessive of details in describing the scenes and the simultaneous lack of action.
Moreover, the story could use much more the events from the past to detail the way of life, thinking and culture of the WWII in England.
Finally, in many occasions the characters are overreacting and excessive emotional over nothing. It really bugged me.
The reading had up and down variations that made it difficult to understand. I am an avid audible listener, but this one took all the patient I had.
In my years of audio-book listener, I have rarely seen such a bad narrator. I could only bear to listen such a big story, because the plot was reasonably enjoyable.
First of all, know that all clear is the second book in the series, and you won't get the same effect without reading or listening to Blackout first.
Connie Willis packsin so much detail about life in London during the Blitz, that I could picture being there. It was totally fascinating and engrossing. As usual, the outsider perspective provided by the historians brings the events into even greater focus.
Great job and a book I'll listen to again!
Yes, but only with the caveat that the story can drag as the characters second guess their every action and miss each other as soon as they are out of sight. Against this is a sound story, some really good characters and good atmosphere.
Yes but I would have to allow some time to pass - as I did after reading The Doomsday Book before starting Blackout/All Clear (together really only 1 book). The time allows the endless agonizing and repetition to fade in my memory so that I am left with the basically good story.
I plan to listen to Winston Churchill's 'The Second World War'.
The sequel to "Blackout, "All Clear" cannot be enjoyed without reading "Blackout" first because there is too much that the author assumes the reader already knows. It's really one book in two volumes. "All Clear" features Willis' trademark one-emergency-after-another writing that keeps the pace rapid, but is also rather confusing at times and even exhausting. Those poor characters never get a chance to sit down and take a deep breath! I think it might have been less confusing if read rather than listened to, because I failed to take in some of the dates that head each chapter, which were clues to the story. I figured it all out in the end, but wished I'd paid more attention to the dates. Katherine Kellgren (who does such wonderful narration in the "Bloody Jack" series) does an equally wonderful job here, and her verbal style is perfect for the nonstop one-thing-after-another action.
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