To Say Nothing of the Dog, Or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last

To Say Nothing of the Dog, Or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last

Book - 1998
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In her first full-length novel since her critically acclaimedDoomsday BookConnie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, once again visits the unpredictable world of time travel.  But this time the result is a joyous journey into a past and future of comic mishaps and historical cross-purposes, in which the power of human love can still make all the difference. On the surface, England in the summer of 1888 is possibly the most restful time in history--lazy afternoons boating on the Thames, tea parties, croquet on the lawn--and time traveler Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest.  He's been shuttling back and forth between the 21st century and the 1940s looking for a Victorian atrocity called the bishop's birdstump.  It's only the latest in a long string of assignments from Lady Schrapnell, the rich dowager who has invaded Oxford University.  She's promised to endow the university's time-travel research project in return for their help in rebuilding the famed Coventry Cathedral, destroyed in a Nazi air raid over a hundred years before. But the bargain has turned into a nightmare.  Lady Schrapnell's motto is "God is in the details," and as the l25th anniversary of the cathedral's destruction--and the deadline for its proposed completion--approaches, time-travel research has fallen by the wayside.  Now Ned and his colleagues are frantically engaged in installing organ pipes, researching misericords, and generally risking life and limb.  So when Ned gets the chance to escape to the Victorian era, he jumps at it.  Unfortunately, he isn't really being sent there to recover from his time-lag symptoms, but to correct an incongruity a fellow historian, Verity Kindle, has inadvertently created by bringing something forward from the past. In theory, such an act is impossible.  But now it has happened, and it's up to Ned and Verity to correct the incongruity before it alters history or, worse, destroys the space-time continuum.  And they have to do it while coping with eccentric Oxford dons, table-rapping spiritualists, a very spoiled young lady, and an even more spoiled cat.  As Ned and Verity try frantically to hold things together and find out why the incongruity happened, the breach widens, time travel goes amok, and everything starts to fall apart--until the fate of the entire space-time continuum hangs on a sÚance, a butler, a bulldog, the battle of Waterloo, and, above all, on the bishop's birdstump. At once a mystery novel, a time-travel adventure, and a Shakespearean comedy,To Say Nothing of the Dogis a witty and imaginative tale of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and a chaotic world in which the shortest distance between two points is never a straight line, and the secret to the universe truly lies "in the details."
Publisher: New York ; Toronto : Bantam Books, 1998, c1997
ISBN: 9780553099959
Branch Call Number: FIC Willi 3558ya 1
Characteristics: 434 p. --


From Library Staff

List - Going to the Dogs
SPL_AnneMarie Jul 20, 2016

Currently into this time travel where multiple trips to the past can be made, but things may not turn out well when the past gets to the future. I also liked Connie Willis' Doomsday Book (no dogs).

melwyk Sep 24, 2014

Readers who enjoy a retake on a classic, and love humour and imaginative settings will likely enjoy this novel. Inspired by Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, Willis takes our time-travelling characters on a wild ride from the future, back into the Victorian Age, on a search for a rare objec... Read More »

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Mar 12, 2019

This book was good company for several weeks. I think one has to be a certain kind of person and/or be in a certain kind of mood for this to appeal. I enjoyed the close analysis of implications of time travel, the idea that there is something out there that wants things to work out and makes corrections towards that goal, and the interesting representation of history. The fantasy that things from history like the library at Alexandria might be saved and brought forward was a ray of sunlight in a dreary day. And the narrator of the audiobook was brilliant at making the various voices distinguishable.

Jun 05, 2017

I quite enjoyed this book, with its humor, adventure, and slight romance, and would definitely recommend it. The characters were all quite likable, and the notion of time travel simply added to the fun. I would not, however, recommend reading this while tired, as it detracts from being able to follow the plot.

Chapel_Hill_MarthaW Dec 29, 2016

Have you ever fallen in love with a book slowly? You might read the first 50 pages and think, "This is amusing, but I have no idea what is happening", and yet by the end you are laughing out loud on every page and wishing that every book were like this one. Well, that was me, reading this book, because it's brilliant. The biggest struggle for me, as an insanely fast reader, was to be patient and just slow down, because this isn't a book you can race through -- for one thing, you'll get hopelessly confused with all the time travel stuff (which, honestly, I was still somewhat confused by even at the end) and, more importantly, this book has a very high joke density, and you'll miss a lot of the humor if you try to speed through it. I don't know how to describe this novel other than to say it's a time travel romantic comedy (emphasis on the comedy) -- at times it has the feeling of a Wodehouse-esque farce, but Willis manages to keep it light and funny while still getting the reader deeply invested in Ned and Verity and their relationship. This is so many of my favorite things bundled into 500 pages and it felt like a gift to me, the whole time I was reading it.

melwyk Sep 24, 2014

Readers who enjoy a retake on a classic, and love humour and imaginative settings will likely enjoy this novel. Inspired by Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat, Willis takes our time-travelling characters on a wild ride from the future, back into the Victorian Age, on a search for a rare object, the Bishop's Bird Stump.

bkilfoy Dec 19, 2013

A delight from start to finish, I'm not sure I've ever enjoyed a time travel novel more. With fantastic comedic moments, excellent historical descriptions of both England during the Blitz and the Victorian era, and a complex mystery that sits at the core of the novel, the novel never lulls. While loosely connected to Willis' previous novel, Doomsday, it isn't necessary to read the first to truly enjoy this novel and those who have are in for a surprise at the massive shift in tone. If you like time travel stories or even if you just want a good historical read, this book shouldn't be missed.

Jun 12, 2012

fascinating time travel

Apr 11, 2011

Fun and funny. Time travel, spoiled heiresses, butlers, and dotty Oxford professors.

Northbrook_Eric Jan 12, 2011

Ned, an historian in the future is sent back to Victorian times to retrieve a mysterious object, a "Bishop's Bird Stump", in order to keep appease a wealthy university benefactor (Lady Shrapnel) and along the way keep history from going completely out of whack. Written with a fine sense of character and wit, Willis richly portrays the foibles of both the past and the future. This is something of a sequel to The Doomsday Book and is perhaps slighly better paced and certainly a lot funnier.

Jan 06, 2011

Funny, well-written time travel romp.

BurlieTest Dec 10, 2010

My favourite book by Connie Willis. All of her books are different, but they're all great.

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Nov 10, 2008

One of the most pleasantly surprising reads I've ever come across. Don't be put off by the Sci Fi designations. This is a fun, suspenseful book with something that few books ever seem to have...a terrific ending.

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