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 love historical fiction and science fiction so you could say this series is made for me but I would say Connie Willis did even better on this book than the first. It has more action and ties all the stories together neatly. I will say I'm disappointed there is not to be a third in this series. I wanted more. I wanted to hear more about Elaine and Polly. I won't say more about that for fear of spoilers. Katherine Kellgren did a fabuolous job. After I finished this I got the Doomsday Book and if you read it, in my opinion, Connie Willis did a much better job on this series but All Clear in particular. Don't miss out on this. I made my mother, not a huge science fiction fan but a definite fan of historical WWII fiction and non-fiction, download this on her kindle. I don't do that for anyone because I try not to force anyone to read anything but I made an exception this time. ....oh, and she loved it!
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.
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.
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.
I ended up completely immersed in this book, despite at times being annoyed by its faults. Most of the criticisms others have made of this book are at least partially accurate and yet it manages to be a wonderful experience. Katherine Kellgren is a very accomplished narrator, and although once in a while her pronunciations were a little disconcerting, she differentiates the characters very well and her voice is lovely to listen to. This book has given me many happy hours.
A satisfying, surprising and romantic conclusion to Blackout. An interesting blend of the intriguing concept of time travel, and well researched historical fiction.
Connie Willis is a conceited author. In the Old English sense of "conceit" -- a clever construction. Willis's conceit is to write about "historians" -- time-travelers from the 2060s who go back in time to observe "ordinary people". Her Doomsday Book, about a village during the Black Plague, was one of the most riveting evocations of human emotion I have ever read.
This time, Willis's "historians" are covering World War II in England.Their observations of ordinary people are of course an excuse for Willis to dress a fascinating parade of characters, dozens of them, all bound up in the everyday heroism of enduring a war: the evacuation at Dunkirk, the children's' evacuation from London, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the V1s and V2s, ...
Of course, the "historians" get caught up in the movement, and do heroic things themselves. Which should be impossible, because "the theory of time" forbids any time-traveler's meddling with the past. So... is there something wrong with time itself? Willis's characters must battle the Germans while they battle against the fabric of time itself!
These two books are in fact a single work, so you must read them in order. But DO read them! They are excellent!
... and then we must wait another ten years for Willis's next work... :-((((
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