Monday, August 30, 2010

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis

From Connie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, comes a comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love, and time travel...

Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s searching for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's bird stump. It's part of a project to restore the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years earlier.

But then Verity Kindle, a fellow time traveler, inadvertently brings back something from the past. Now Ned must jump back to the Victorian era to help Verity put things right--not only to save the project but to prevent altering history itself.
Over the years I have heard mention of Connie Willis many times for many reasons, but I have never actually read her for myself. Recently I decided to see what the library has by her and give her a try. I am really up in the air about the book, though. On the one hand I enjoyed the story, but on the other I found the book way too long. I know she was making a point when she didn't have her characters clear thing up really quickly, but I would get impatient. I had many of the plots worked out, so I wanted to know if I was right or not. When it finally came time for the big reveals, though, you would still have to wait for the characters to get around to the point. My impatience was probably my biggest problem with the book. I know why she did it, but it still bothered me.

This was a book that had a lot going on. There were many characters, adventures, sub-plots, time travel, history, and much more worked into the pages. Ned Henry is the main character and the eyes through which the novel takes place. When we first meet him he is in desperate need of some sleep, so they send him to the Victorian era to right a wrong and then he can sleep when his work is done. This doesn't happen quite as it is planned. Things happen when you encounter love-sick man, a dog, and a cat who in true cat fashion does what she wants and not what anyone actually wants her to. Cats are extinct in Ned Henry's world, so they are not quite sure what to make of them. There is also the absent-minded professor, a family where the father is obsessed with fish and the wife and daughter are having seances, a woman from the future who made a mess of things in the first place, and other characters that appear from time to time just to make things interesting.

Even though I didn't love this book as much as I had hoped to, I still really liked it. There is so much going on that it is impossible to explain it all and not give something away, so I will just recommend that you give it a read and lose yourself in a strange mixture of the future and the past.


  1. I recently read it as well, and I feel teh same way, to explain it gives away, but it is a book I'll re-read.

  2. This sounds like my kind of story. Thx! ^-^

  3. Oh, sad. I read this one recently with Marg (we should have coordinated!) and I really fell in love with it. But I can see why, if you thought it was too long, you would get impatient.

  4. I really need to try this one. Sorry it didn't quite work for you.

  5. Rebecca: Yes, I wouldn't mind rereading it at some point. In the meantime I am going to try something else by her.

    I Am Mouse: Hope you enjoy!

    Aarti and Amanda: It wasn't so much that I didn't like it, but I was impatient. I had things figured out and I wanted to know if I was right or wrong. lol


Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

I am so sorry, but I turned anonymous commenting off. I have had it from the very beginning, but that is how the spam is getting by my spam filter at the moment. If it is a big deal I will turn it back on and moderate all comments. I also changed moderation from older than 14 days to older than 7.