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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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.

Apr 28, 2017

Picked this out because the reviews are good, and the author Connie willis has won Hugo and Nebula awards. Unfortunately, this is a silly book and a bit of a mess. When the lead character Ned travels back in time to Victorian England and is befriended by a young man who is a fool, ie think Bertie Wooster without Jeeves. The story then becomes increasingly pseudo PG Wodehouse, as Ned travels to a country home and becomes involved in silly events such involving a dog, a cat, a pet fish etc. PG Wodehouse stories about Totleigh Towers are much funnier than this book, and Connie Willis should be done for plagiarism.

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.

AL_LESLEY Nov 22, 2016

Connie Willis is a master storyteller. Doomsday was awesome and now this second installment of the Oxford Time Travel series is so incredibly different from it's predecessor but just as great. This Victorian farce is hilarious and the quirky characters and over all premise, despite being quite predictable at time, is a joy.

AliReads Oct 08, 2016

Hilarious and very clever.

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.

bwortman 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

May 18, 2012

Thoroughly enjoyable time-travel novel, witty, at times hilarious, incredibly well-researched, believable, well-written. The ending was a trifle predictable in Victorian fashion, but I think that it was fitting, given the subject matter.

Short summary: lots of people are travelling in time to help an eccentric and powerful rich lady restore Coventry Cathedral to the state it was in before the Second World War, romance follows, as do silly and laugh-provoking coincidences.

Sep 18, 2011

This book seems to move very slowly in the beginning, but after the first fifty pages, I couldn't put it down. It is a very interesting idea, and is a good science fiction that will leave you wondering about its implications in the real world.

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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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