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 blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.
After finishing the book, I had to look up the classification referenced in the title of the review. I won't spoil the scene from which it comes; but I think it applies to the book as well as the subject of the conversation. It is that conversation among others, towards the end of the book that leads me to rate All Clear and Blackout as 5s, regardless of their shortcomings. Given that Blackout isn't even a complete novel, this should say something to you.
I was a bit taken aback by the radiant praise heaped upon Ms. Willis's writing when I glanced over the publisher's summary while waiting for the book to download. I mean sure, I'd been enthralled enough by the characters and world of Blackout to forge on (I'd bought the book long ago and just had to download it) but seriously, "uplifting and devastating?" Well, regardless of whatever else I might have thought then, the acclaim is worth it. This book brings to life the struggles of ordinary people by contrasting them with very extraordinary observers trapped by a very different sort of peril than the blitz. The author also uses time travel as a means to depict the depth of love represented by truly selfless sacrifice in entirely amazing ways. It is one thing to give one's life in a spontaneous act, quite another to devote what might very well be the rest of your life engaged in mundane tasks seeking the rescue of a friend you might, and probably will, never see again. At the same time, along with the time travelers, the reader meets any number of people "doing their bit," by putting out fires, decoding German messages, driving ambulances, putting on silly shows, and raising other people's children. Many characters embody a spirit that is often ridiculed or exploited, and through the magic of Ms. Willis's words, bring out its power and beauty.
There are a great many scenes in which characters deliberate, perhaps overly much, on the unique pitfalls of their situation, but I think it's generally relevant to the story, despite its repetitiveness. I also think it unfair to the characters to dwell overly much on how often they worry about delayed arrivals, given the very uncertain dangers and the singular nature of the people involved, the only person who knows who you really are is going out into a city regularly beset by aerial bombardment on top of every conceivable "normal" hazard of urban life; I actually worried every time the characters separated.
I've come to think of the degree to which I miss the characters of a story as a measure of just how much I enjoyed it; I think I'll be carrying around memories of Polly and Merope's triumphs and tragedies with me for quite a long while.
As a long time Willis fan, I want to give this story a higher rating but I can't. There are several things I find problematic about the story itself, pace being one of them. It does go on far too long, although often in enjoyable ways. It's a fun read but not her best.
However, I can't fault the narrator. As always, Kellgren does an excellent job.
I am a clay sculptor and an art instructor at a community college. I mostly listen to audiobooks while I work in my home studio.
If you're considering All Clear, you've read Blackout already or you need to.
This one is just as good or better. Enjoy.
This book seems like it was written for an adolescent or teenage audience - but regretfully does not deliver the goods - even for that audience.It is repetitive, boring and slow. The protagonists bumble around in the dark repeating errors and themes in a seemingly endless cycle. The characters never develop, showing neither common sense nor worldliness even though they are supposedly experienced time - travelling historians.There were no reasons (other than chasing dollars) to make this a two volume (Blackout and All Clear). In fact the obvious attempt to stretch this tale out into two books is what makes it so bad.the ingredients are there for a good story. It could have been a wonderful novel delivered in about 250 pages. Too bad.
No the genre is great.
The narration was great.
Save your money and your time and do not buy these two books.
This story, which started in "Blackout" was slow and even boring at times, but it all came together in the last few hours of "All Clear" in such a satisfying way as to make it all much more than simply worthwhile. There have been many great stories of time travel, but never one so intelligent and believable as this.The characters are wonderful and you will be very sorry to leave them for good at the end of the story. Many of the characters will surprise you. This is an author that obviously loves people and is able to see more than just a little good in all of them. When it all ends, you will both be satisfied and wish there was more.It would be impossible to give too much praise to this narrator. I, for one, cannot believe a more talented narrator exists. Her ability to give a complete and different personality to every character is beyond belief and her complete command of all English accents cannot be matched! Through all of this, she always speaks clearly never making the listener struggle to understand a single word.
Blackout and All Clear.
I liked these books, but don't start the first one unless you are prepared to listen to the second. I would listen to these books again sometime which is my primary standard for any written or audbile book. I go back to the stories I like to walk around in the world the author created. Willis created characters that I liked, that I cared about and that, overall, acted believably.
All that said, I think that these books could have benefited from better editing. Willis, at times, becomes very tedious describing the characters' angst over changing time or each others' welfare. In the second, all clear, there are stream of consciousness sections of characters who have suffered traumatic injuries and who can't keeep events and times separated. Although generally well done, these started to get so tedious that I wanted to slap some sense into the character. However, since I wanted to slap the character instead of the author, I guess Willis did a good job suspending disbelief.
The narration is superb.
The precision of historical records and following datelines were amazing. The writer accomplished a feat of fact and fiction keeping it well in balance and also maintaining a point of "Whats gonna happen next".
The Hopkins, what a terror those two were.
The first play
No. This is time taking experience. I believe it would take a solid week to hear all in one sitting
this is part 2. If you do not read Blackout first, you will be totally lost
I listened to Black Out and All Clear back-to-back and found All Clear to be so confusing that I spent 95% of the book going, "huuuh?" It is excessively detailed and very convoluted. It was, however, perfectly put together in the end, but wading through 2 lengthy books to figure out what the H was going on was a bit much. Connie Willis, is a brilliant writer/researcher though and I have loved her writing style despite the confusion.
This book continues the story begun in "Blackout." I couldn't wait to keep listening to find out what happened to the characters and how their problems were resolved. Once again a very engaging plot and characters, with amazing attention to historical details, in a way that brings the era to life.
A satisfying, surprising and romantic conclusion to Blackout. An interesting blend of the intriguing concept of time travel, and well researched historical fiction.
"I actually shouted at the player in frustration!"
Remember Dick Van Dykes cockney accent? This is the posh version. Terrible pronounciation 'garse marsk' for gas mask 'parsedge' for passage! I gave this a go to see what happened after the abrupt end to part one. It goes on and on and on and on. Summary after summary, recap after recap. I was shouting 'Get on with it' so many times, but being a courier I buy books by the length to fill my time, and stuck it out to the end. It wasnt really worth it. This two book series could easily have been completed in one (shorter) single volume. It's a nice idea but the glaring anomalies keep tripping over themselves and you cannot help laugh at yet another summary explaining something that was proved wrong by the previous summary! This is the first Audiobook that has really annoyed me.
"Good story, under researched, poorly narrated"
This isn't a novel, it's the second half of a novel. Neither part is a complete story that would stand alone. Taking the two parts together makes a good story, but two aspects make it extremely irritating to listen to: There are some glaring errors that will be evident to anyone knows London and its wartime history reasonably well e.g. Embankment station was only so named in the 1970's, and the easiest way from Bart's hospital to St Pauls is on foot, not several miles by taxi! The narrator is an American putting on a 'British' accent - badly. The mispronunciations and stress on the wrong syllables grate. Maybe Americans who don't know London or its history would enjoy it more than this Londoner did.
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