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)
Provided hours of distraction on the elliptical exercise machine, and the historical information about the details of life in wartime Britain were interesting. BUT: was almost driven to true distraction by being inside the heads of people always worrying in stupifying detail about multitudes of major or minor catastrophes that never happen. Should have been edited down one medium-sized book. Narrator has a wide variety of voices, very accomplished...but unfortunately many of the voices are irritating to listen to. Characters--except for the urchins Alf and Binny--are bland. Doesn't feel much like science fiction...the science seems to be a plot device to have "historians" traipsing around during the Blitz, so we can see what it was like from a viewpoint similar to our own. Historical science fiction is a valid sub-genre, but the way it's done here feels like the same purposes would be more effectively achieved through straightforward historical fiction. No, I forgot...then you might not be treated to all those bloody worry-warts...
Reading Fantasy and SCI-FI on audible.
This is a great book - but it is really just one of two and you must read both to get the story. The reader does a great job with this book. She is able to bring all the characters to life including the young kids and the many other minor characters. There are many memorable characters, but I loved the two trouble maker kids in the first half of the book. They were great at getting into and out of trouble. I thought the ending of this book would at least show a break, but it does not. So be prepared to read both books. But this is a very fun and interesting story.
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!
"Richly Woven Time Travel"
Very rich story with remarkable accuracy of historical events expertly read with a creative Time Travel element. I loved this series; like a favourite quilt and hot tea on a bitterly cold night.
"Didn't finish it"
I bought this with Black Out. I struggled through Black Out and tried to listen to All Clear. Finally I could not be bothered to listen any more. This is the very first book I have listened to or read that I have not finished. The story is about three time travellers who have got stuck in the blitz, cannot get back to 2016 and may have compromised history. The narrator reads it too fast and the accents are awful. She appears to be shouting all the time even if you turn the volume down. The author introduces the book and is clearly excited about it, I was not. It may have a good ending but I cannot waste any more time finding out. Recommendation - don't buy!
"Good follow up to Blackout"
Definitely the Oxford series written by Connie Willis but would avoid anything narrated by Katherine Kellgren in future. The frequent mispronouncing got in the way of a good story e.g passengers and particularly of ARP and FANYS showed ignorance of the subject matter and was irritating. The American accent lacked conviction as did the 'over the top' aristocratic accent. If Aileen (Eileen?) is supposed to be Irish an Irish accent should have been used for her part.
The fire at St Paul's and the surrounding events. I had read Blackout some time ago and then tried it and all clear as audio books, they work very well, particularly Connie Willis' introduction
See previous comments
Yes. An English cast. Sam West as Mike, Claire Skinner as Polly
"put on accent is a put off"
The overly put on British accent, with the use of a long 'A' even when its not meant to be there, for example father instead of further and parrsage in place of passage, to name a few, first was amusing but became so very irritating I had to stop listening!
good story spoiled by being far too long. really needed editing - cut out repeats and quotations at the beginning of each chapter, which near the end wasn't needed as it was really all one chapter. at this point Katherine kellgrin tried to keep the atmosphere and momentum going but the quotes slowed it down and were irritating.
the characters that stood out for me, apart from the main ones, were the shakespeareian actor sir godfrey and alfie and binnie.
black out leaves you up in the air, all clear pulls all the loose ends together.
"A good story, but repeats its self"
This is my second time listening to both Blackout and All Clear. I really like both books because I like the premise and setting. London during the blitz is well portrayed and Connie Willis can really make you feel like you are there with the characters.
My only problem with the book, and probably the reason it took me almost a year to to read it again, was its repetitive nature. The only suspense comes from the characters inner monogamous. They spend so much time beating them self's down and second guessing everything they do it makes it hard to read.
Half the time I'm rooting for them the other half I'm shouting at them. All the main characters repeatedly take an action then spend the next chapter going over all the consequences and over thinking that 'might' happen as a result. Then the next time they are in a similar situation they do it all over again, followed by the same second guessing.
All the above said, I will read both books again and recommend them both
"Enjoyable story, just don't take it too seriously!"
I really enjoyed this book! It is not the best writing in the world but I enjoyed the characters and the premise enough to forgive cutting the first book off mid-action. There were some mistakes by the author in writing English dialogue but that was less distracting than the reader's fairly poor attempt at English accents; to an English ear there were many mistakes. However, she was a good reader and 'told' the story well. There could have been better character development given the scope of two books but this seemed a little overtaken by the author's want to get the historical facts in there. I would definitely recommend this book with the caveat that it shouldn't be taken too seriously. I really enjoyed the ride for what it was. It was clear the author had spent much time carefully researching the history.
This and the precursor novel blackout is an excellent time travel novel with many twists and turns. It can get a bit confusing at times but perseverance pays off in the end. That the main ?heroes? of the story come from the most unlikely source is an interesting twist and as a reader/listener you really want the time travellers to get back home.
One word of advice however, read/listed to the two books consecutively. The storyline is so intrinsic that to have a significant gap between the first and second instalment might be frustrating as you try to remember who some of the lesser characters are.
"Don't buy this before Blackout!"
Not listened yet as the author indicates at the beginning to turn off if not read Blackout.
The Audible details doesn't really indicate that this is required but just says that it is in the same era etc, not that it is part 2 of - 2 parter!
Not a happy bunny now as need to wait until my NEXT credit to get Blackout
before I can continue to this one.
"Almost a 5!"
Listening to tales of war torn London recounted by my Nan when I was a small child, I couldn't help being drawn into this tale of ordinary folk living through the Blitz. In spite of Connie Willis being American and forgiving her a few mistakes on stations & geography, it was very true to the first-hand stories I'd heard. Really brought to life London in the Blitz from a different angle.
Setting the story against the semi Sci Fi backdrop of the 'Net' and time travel gave it an interesting twist that kept me engaged. You get attached to the charachters and want them to get home.
Agree with another review - you must listen to Blackout first to make any sense of it.
There are two reasons it didn't get a 5: -
1). The plot and 'science' behind the net really do get more convoluted than they need to.
and 2). Could the publisher get really radical and employ an actual Brit to read the story?! Brave attempt by Katherine Kellgren and far better than any of my attempts at an American accent, but PLEASE! You have to be really patient to tune out all the strange pronunciations and tune in to the story.
Still worth the patience though.
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