Sep 14, 2007

To Say Nothing of the Dog

by Connie Willis

Another time-traveling historical fiction novel by this author. It has some of the same characters as Doomsday Book, but a totally different scenario. In To Say Nothing of the Dog, an obsessed woman called Lady Shrapnell wants to rebuild Coventry Cathedral exactly as it was before it got destroyed. So she sends historians from a futuristic Oxford back in time to study every little detail (because "God is in the details"). Ned Henry's been on so many time-trips he's suffering from time-lag illness but to escape Shrapnell sending him on another mission, he goes back in time to Victorian England to rest up for a week. Only instead of resting he ends up on another mission to solve/find something, with a time-traveling historian cohort and a bulldog and cat in tow.

I never got far enough to appreciate the cat. I slogged through 93 pages and thought to myself: why don't I quit now and read something I enjoy? Perhaps it's because I don't appreciate slapstick comedy? Or that I never read Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, which apparently Willis based much of this book on (and made no pretense to hide it; her characters quote heavily from it). I just could not get into this one. Maybe I'll try it again in ten years...

Abandoned            499 pages, 1999

1 comment:

Terri B. said...

I actually liked this book, but I can see why someone would not. It is somewhat helpful to have read Three Men in a Boat, but if you didn't care for Willis' version I'm guessing you won't really enjoy the original either. I'm assuming from what you say that you've read Doomsday Book. That one has stayed with me ever since I read it. It is indeed quite a book. I also enjoyed some of her short stories as well as her novel Lincoln's Dreams.