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Summary

Connie Willis' Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book uses time travel for a serious look at how people connect with each other. In this Hugo-winning companion to that novel, she offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy that pays hilarious homage to Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

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

Critic reviews

"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)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    71
  • 4 Stars
    41
  • 3 Stars
    12
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    5
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    6

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    53
  • 4 Stars
    17
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    7
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    2
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected but good,

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

The best Sci-fi since the time travellers wife

If you like mystery stories (Agathe Christie) and Sci-fi this is the best book

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dianne
  • LondonUnited Kingdom
  • 21-10-10

Time and tide waits for some!

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Not to be missed

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Janet
  • Bourbon L Archambault, France
  • 13-06-13

Too many Americanisms for easy listening.

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

Unputhearable if you get my meaning. I love the idea, story, reading and am just waiting for the next book to download.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Funny, interesting but slightly long winded.

This is a book with a wonderful concept, great characterisation and funny snippets that, although sometimes overplayed, do make you laugh. The book does drag however with over explanations and overly detailed sections that could have been cut with little alteration to the storyline. This was a great story with good narration, but simply dragged a little too much at 20 hours for my liking.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great Listening<br />

Refreshingly original. An interesting, clever story, laced with gentle, pleasant humour and believable characters.
Recommended.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Thinks it's extremely funny, is simply isn't very

A well narrated book, but there are simply far far far too many moments that are clearly meant be very funny but simply aren't at all. For vast swathes of time the plot goes absolutely nowhere and when it finally does chug forward a page or two it does so utterly predictability.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Willis by Crossley is Perfect

This is Willis at her finest with a novel that is time travel, period romance and wonderful humour that nestles up surprisingly closely to that of her muse and mentor, and J K and Jerome. Above all she evokes a wonderfully realistic sense of Victorian England. Her research is excellent which unfortunately makes her anachronistic use of American English sound all the more jarring. Crossley voices every part brilliantly. One could not ask for a better interpreter. Even when this perfect paragon of Victorian English delivers a decidedly modern North American phrase he does so with unwavering panache. I found him a joy to listen to from start to finish and for a book with so many cleverly drawn characters that is talent indeed.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sara
  • 23-07-08

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.

78 of 80 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Margaret
  • 28-05-16

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.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Carol
  • 04-05-08

Wonderful

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.

74 of 79 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Annette
  • 21-03-10

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.

23 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Luis
  • 09-03-09

Great Book...

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.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • C
  • 03-12-09

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!

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roxanna
  • 29-08-12

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.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • rachel
  • 15-07-10

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Coffee Lover
  • 26-07-10

A Gem

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Eliana
  • 13-12-08

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.


21 of 24 people found this review helpful