When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities like recalcitrant rowboats, missing cats, and love at first sight make Ned's holiday anything but restful - to say nothing of the way hideous pieces of Victorian art can jeopardize the entire course of history.
Delightfully aided by the perfect comedic timing of narrator Steven Crossley, To Say Nothing of the Dog shows once again why Connie Willis is one of the most talented writers working today.
©1998 Connie Willis; (P)2000 Recorded Books
"Willis effortlessly juggles comedy of manners, chaos theory and a wide range of literary allusions [with a] near flawlessness of plot, character and prose." (Publishers Weekly)
It took me a while to get into as it is not really science fiction as I would have expected. I nearly gave up at an early stage but I'm glad I didn't.
I would describe it as a blend of historical mystery and romance, with satire and some rather amusing characters. Plenty of clues are given out as the well thought out plot develops. The story moves at a good pace and at all stages there is a lot going on, but I never lost the thread. It is witty with many twists and surprises.
A mixture of genres and not the sort of thing that would normally appeal to my taste, but good enough to keep me entertained.
I love this book so much it is going to take its place with my desert island books. The narrator is fantastic. I didn't want it to end. I fell in love with all the characters, especially Cyril!
This is light hearted and really amusing whilst also having a good storyline. I loved the author's turn of phrase and the wonderful world and characters that were created. Definitely a book not to be missed.
Either Connie Willis bowed to pressure from her American editors ,which I doubt, or she shows a disdainful attitude to both her American readers (by assuming they are uneducated) and to her British readers (by dismissing them as unimportant).
With all the research she has obviously put into this book, she must have known how many words and phrases she has included that would never have been used in Victorian England, and are unlikely to have crept into our language in the future.
'Rowlock', 'drapes', 'Postal Office', 'sailboat', 'gotten', 'fishing pole', 'exclamation point'.
We don't go 'down' to London - we go 'up' to London. We don't 'meet with' people - we 'meet' them. 'Infirmary' takes the definite article.
And as for Tossie's frequent use of the word 'cunning'!
These errors would perhaps be forgiveable if the narrator was American, but hearing a British voice reading those words grated on my nerves.
Otherwise, a pleasant book that deserved its Hugo win.
it was the most ridiculous story ever and I loved it. I loved the dog cutest thing ever. and the hot mess that is time travel was finally revealed to me. as humanity I suggest that we DONT learn how to do it.
even when I felt the story was tedious the performer kept me engaged and in stitches. I wonder if the book would have been so much fun without him.
Tracey Hoy Author of Black Irish, Rhuddlan, Conwy, Pádraig, Galen's Child, Lilláen of the Lake, What Brainstem? Cadwy's Haircut...
Thoroughly enjoyable story. Enjoyed the era and the quaint, humorously drawn Victorian characters. Another winner!
comedy?.... victorian slapstick or comedy of errors.? Probably neither, not funny in any event.
It must be me cos it got a hugo.....naw, it was actually very poor. Huge let down.
Stick with the first couple of chapters, where you'll be nearly as confused as the narrator, Ned Henry. He's a Historian who is suffering from Time Lag after being sent back to 1940 to search for an artifact known as The Bishops Bird Stump). Action, adventure, comedy, rowing, art, jumble sales, croquet, Victorian manners, Oxford, Coventry, the Blitz, Spiritism, a cat addicted to goldfish, a dog called Cecil and a butler who can out-buttle Jeeves…. prepare to be gloriously entertained.
"A fun read"
Part country-house farce, part chaos theory, part time travel fantasy and all fun. This book was long but held the interest and had moments of laugh-out-loud silliness. There wasn't a rush to end the story but a careful playing out of the tale that lent to a sense of near perfect closure as loose ends were neatly woven together. Highly recommended.
I've read this book several times and wasn't sure it was the best investment in the world to listen to something I was this familiar with. Well, I was wrong. The audio version of this witty, funny book was even better than reading it. If you're looking for an escape to a comedy of manners embedded in speculative fiction, I recommend this book (and, really, anything by Willis) highly. I was sad when it ended.
"Embarrassing, but i'm a sucker for time travel"
And the smarter the time travel, the more I like it. Yeah, this was a bit of a romance novel. A bit of time travel book and a tad of a serial mystery type book. So what? I liked it. It made me happy with it's sense of playfulness and whimsy. Cats extinct, time travel a reality and who doesn't want to spend just a day dressing pretty with an empty head (just a day dammit) and then really like the guy who finds it annoying. Light reading. Veiled romance. Chic book I'd say. And a damn nice one. So there.
This was one of the best Historical Sci-Fi books I have read. The characters were great, it was one of those ooks where I was able to envision mysef as the main character. The narations was excellent. Don't miss it.
"A Sentimental Favorite"
This is one of the books that has lived on my nightstand so I'll always have it close at hand for years. It's my favorite Mr. Dunworthy (auto correct keeps changing his name to Unworthy; forgive me, Connie Willis!) story. It combines elements of farce, light-hearted comedy, gallant romance and time travel. Oh, and the Bishop's bird stump. So glad to now have it in Audible format too. Just charming.
"A Delightful Romp"
Never before have time travel, science, literary allusion and the sticky matter of Victorian manners been brought together so charmingly and so seamlessly. The prose itself is a perfect mix of the modern and the Victorian style, and the reader carries it off with perfect aplomb. The story is witty and delightful, the characters both exasperating and endearing, and the entire 20 hours slide by in a kind of dream of delighted amusement. I couldn't recommend it more!
"If P G Wodehouse Time Traveled"
I LOVED this book and was very sad when it was over! Steven Crossley did an amazing job with his narration. I felt like I had landed in the England of P.G. Wodehouse which somehow got crossed up with several centuries of time travel and the hunt for the world's ugliest vase.
Connie Willis does an astonishing job of weaving together a plethora of odd and loose ends, reeling through well-researched historical tidbits all set in England of various eras; from the 13th century to World War II and the blitz and on to punting on the Thames. The boat scenes are marvelous, complete with a bulldog and various other well-drawn characters. I felt like I knew these people by the time the book was over. I would love to see them off on another adventure through time together.
I listened to this book on a very long drive to California and it was perfect, I found myself yelling at the IPod and making remarks as one might at a movie when you know the answer but the character just doesn't see it. Great fun, well plotted with more twists than Chubby Checker.
"Hilarious, intelligent and so well narrated"
I actually tried to read this book, but just could never seem to really get into it. I decided to give it another try as an audiobook because I like Connie Willis' work so much. Let me tell you, the narrator is so good that he literally brings the story to life. I've been listening in the car to and from work and I've actually been wishing I had a longer commute!
The book is about time travel, chaos theory, three-men in a boat, love...to say nothing of the dog.
This book was in a word, "delightful" from beginning to end. I can't remember when I have enjoyed an audio book this much. The entire premise is clever, often laugh out loud funny, and beautifully read by Steven Crossley. This was a perfect gem of a comedy with a dash of romance, sci-fi and a bit of mystery thrown in with a marvelously ironic ending. The way the author incorporated Three Men in a Boat was masterful and her handling of Cyril and the cat was perfection. To me, the quality of a book is measured by how it makes you feel when you read or hear it. This made me feel wonderful and I'm very sad that it has ended.
"I'm still confused"
This is an odd book.
I'm still not sure what I think about it.
The narrator was fine, the story progressed.
I think I came in somewhere in the middle of a series, I had trouble following the action for the first 30min-hour, then I sort of settled into it.
Perhaps this would be more exciting for someone with more interest in late 19th century England, English writers and colleges at the time?
I was happiest near the end when time travel was happening and expectations were being surprised and loose ends were finally being tied up.
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