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To Say Nothing of the Dog: How We Found the…
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To Say Nothing of the Dog: How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Connie Willis (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,4881811,089 (4.18)1 / 548
Member:MsCellophane
Title:To Say Nothing of the Dog: How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last
Authors:Connie Willis (Author)
Info:Bantam Books (1998), Hardcover, 434 pages
Collections:Your library, Illinois library, Read
Rating:
Tags:fiction

Work details

To Say Nothing of the Dog; or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis (1998)

19th century (46) alternate history (49) comedy (39) England (136) fantasy (207) favorite (29) fiction (565) historical (53) historical fiction (106) history (28) Hugo Award (37) hugo winner (28) humor (306) mystery (74) novel (55) Oxford (60) paperback (31) read (83) romance (53) science fiction (944) sf (212) sff (80) speculative fiction (48) time travel (737) to-read (114) unread (61) Victorian (130) Victorian England (30) Victorian Era (33) WWII (67)
  1. 162
    Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (amberwitch, Othemts, Patangel)
    amberwitch: A much darker book set in the same universe. This time the timetravel is to the dark middle ages instead of the gay Victorian era
    Othemts: To Say Nothing of the Dog is a more light-hearted time travel adventure which is sort of a sequel to Doomsday Book. Both are excellent, enjoyable novels.
  2. 110
    Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Medellia, rakerman, kittycatpurr, wookiebender)
  3. 100
    Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers (sturlington)
    sturlington: Because of all the Peter and Harriet references.
  4. 93
    The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (simon_carr)
    simon_carr: Similar light hearted style and 'book travelling' rather than time travelling but chances are if you like one then you'll like the other.
  5. 50
    Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (Pagemistress)
  6. 50
    The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (sturlington)
    sturlington: To Say Nothing of the Dog refers to The Moonstone numerous times. It does give away the mystery, so be warned.
  7. 40
    Time and Again by Jack Finney (Kichererbse)
  8. 51
    Scholarly Magics (A College of Magics, A Scholar of Magics) by Caroline Stevermer (nessreader)
    nessreader: College of Magics is a swashbuckling coming of age novel about a Ruritanian princess (who has a perfectly proper English friend, a demure witch with a passion for millinery) Jane, the English friend is the lead in the sequel, Scholar of Magics, which is a closer match for To Say Nothing.. Edwardiana, cream teas, and magic, in books told with a deft wit: that describes both To Say Nothing and Scholar of Magics.… (more)
  9. 20
    Farthing by Jo Walton (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both mashups of classic British mysteries and science fiction.
  10. 31
    Love Among the Chickens by P. G. Wodehouse (gaialover)
  11. 64
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (hiredman)
  12. 20
    Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  13. 20
    The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Kichererbse)
  14. 21
    What Ho, Automaton! by Chris Dolley (Keeline)
    Keeline: Also a light Victorian mystery/romance with a Wodehouse feel
  15. 10
    My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen (isabelx)
    isabelx: Both are very funny time travel stories.
  16. 11
    Corrupting Dr. Nice by John Kessel (nessreader)
    nessreader: Both have a flavour of screwball comedy romance and wilful anachronisms abound while the unromantic lovers sort themselves out. Corrupting Dr Nice reminded me a lot of Preston Sturges' film, The Lady Eve.
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English (178)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (181)
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
Delightful! Many of the same characters as The Doomsday Book. Funny, full of warmth and endearing descriptions of good people managing with dignity to deal with silly inconsiderate people. Once again a lot of clever exploration of the ramifications of time travel. ( )
  Matt_B | Jun 15, 2014 |
I really loved 'The Doomsday Book' and so I expected to love this as well having heard rave reviews but this did not do much for me. This is also about time-travel and centers around a group of historians a.k.a. time travelers in Oxford England circa 2050-something. In this novel as opposed to the medieval black plague setting we were mostly in Victorian times in Coventry.

It was all about a causing a discrepancy in history - accidentally or even purposefully doing something when you time-travel that changes the subsequent course of history and essentially screws up the whole time-space continuum. Specifically here, a historian named Verity Kindle (who I rather think was supposed to be Kivrin from the first book though I am not sure on this point,) rescues a drowning cat and takes it back through the net which isn't supposed to be allowed. And with the theory of even something seemingly insignificant can have huge effects, the novel is played out.

It is at times funny - I loved Terrence and Cyril. I love all the historical references and the erudition so at times I was really quite enjoying. However, the whole concept of the slippage and the incongruity and the drops etc. became ridiculous and repetitive to me. I just could not get into it. I guess the time-travel aspect just really fell flat for me this time. Try as I might I just could not make myself care about who had the damn bishop's bird stump or who was supposed to meet up with whom or how many minutes of slippage their was - the reveals were coming fast and furious at the end and I just didn't care and wanted it to be over.

So very uneven reading experience and overall mixed feelings from me. I don't think I'll read anymore from this author anytime soon. IMO, 'Doomsday Book' is much better. ( )
  jhowell | May 10, 2014 |
This was a reread. I read the hardback years ago and thoroughly enjoyed Willis' sly humor and complicated plot. When it was available as an ebook bargain, I jumped at the chance to reread it in comfort. Anyone who enjoys time travel and humor should not miss this book! ( )
  MarysGirl | Apr 27, 2014 |
Second half is four stars, but it is slow to hit its stride and at times the characters lapse into American verbiage and stereotypes that breaks the suspension of belief. Very charming ending. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is either a quiet, gentle science fiction book with a bit of a mystery (a missing Bishop's bird stump), or it's a cozy, humorous mystery with a bit of science fiction (time travel).

The search for the missing bird stump involves several intrepid time travelers, Ned and Verity especially - three men in a boat, to say nothing of the dog - a cat that has time traveled - Wilkie Collins book, The Moonstone - Agatha Christie's Piorot - Lord Peter Whimsey - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - spiritualism - jumble sales - two great butlers - the Magna Carta - the Battle of Waterloo - the bombing of London and most important of all (as all science fiction lovers, or Back to the Future fans know) - the space-time continium!.

Oh yes, and it is also several love stories. ( )
  mysterymax | Jan 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 178 (next | show all)
To Say Nothing of the Dog is charming. It’s funny and gentle and it has Victorian England and severely time lagged time travelers from the near future freaking out over Victorian England, it’s full of jumble sales and beautiful cathedrals and kittens. This is a complicated funny story about resolving a time paradox, and at the end when all is revealed everything fits together like oiled clockwork. But what makes it worth reading is that it is about history and time and the way they relate to each other. If it’s possible to have a huge effect on the past by doing some tiny thing, it stands to reason that we have a huge effect on the future every time we do anything.
added by Shortride | editTor.com, Jo Walton (Jun 24, 2010)
 
I have read several stories by Connie Willis which I have enjoyed. However, these have all been short stories or novellas. At longer lengths, based on the three Willis novels I've read, I'm afraid I subscribe to the minority opinion that her work is vastly overrated. While I'm sure To Say Nothing of the Dog will sell well and may even garner Willis another Hugo or Nebula, it is another Willis book which adds to my opinion that she should stick with short fiction and stay away from time travel.
added by Shortride | editSF Site, Steven H. Silver (Feb 15, 1998)
 
Gleeful fun with a serious edge, set forth in an almost impeccable English accent.
added by Shortride | editKirkus Reviews (Oct 15, 1997)
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dinyer, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"...a harmless, necessary cat"--William Shakespeare
"God is in the details."--Gustave Flaubert
Dedication
To Robert A. Heinlein

Who, in Have Space Suit, Will Travel,
first introduced me to Jerome K. Jerome's
Three Men in a Boat,
To Say Nothing of the Dog.
First words
There were five of us--Carruthers and the new recruit and myself, and Mr. Spivens and the verger.
Quotations
She sighed. "It's too bad. 'Placetne, magistra?' he said when he proposed, and then she said, 'Placet'. That's a fancy Oxford don way of saying yes. I had to look it up. I hate it when people use Latin and don't tell you what they mean.
It was actually more of a swoon than a faint. She slumped sedately to the flowered carpet, managing to avoid hitting any of the furniture--no small feat since the room contained a large round rosewood table, a small triangular table with a tintype album on it, a mahogany table with a bouquet of wax flowers under a glass dome on it, a horsehair sofa, a damask loveseat, a Windsor chair, a Morris chair, a Chesterfield chair, several ottomans, a writing desk, a bookcase, a knick-knack cabinet, a whatnot, a firescreen, a harp, an aspidistra, and an elephant's foot.
Plans, intentions, reasons. I could hear Professor Overforce now. "I knew it! This is nothing but an argument for a Grand Design!"

A Grand Design we couldn't see because we were part of it. A Grand Design we only got occasional, fleeting glimpses of. A Grand Design involving the entire course of history and all of time and space that, for some unfathomable reason, chose to work out its designs with cats and croquet mallets and penwipers, to say nothing of the dog. And a hideous piece of Victorian artwork. And us.

"History is character," Professor Peddick had said. And character had certainly played a part in the self-correction--Lizzie Bittner's devotion to her husband and the Colonel's refusal to wear a coat in rainy weather, Verity's fondness for cats and Princess Arjumand's fondness for fish and Hitler's temper and Mrs. Mering's gullibility. And my time-laggedness. If they were all part of the self-correction, what did that do to the notion of free will? Or was free will part of the plan as well?

One of the first symptoms of time-lag is a tendency to maudlin sentimentality, like an Irishman in his cups or a Victorian poet cold-sober.
It is a temporal universal that people never appreciate their own time, especially transportation.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Time-travel researcher Ned Henry shuttles back and forth between the 21st century and the 1940s in order to correct an incongruity brought forward from the past.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553575384, Mass Market Paperback)

To Say Nothing of the Dog is a science-fiction fantasy in the guise of an old-fashioned Victorian novel, complete with epigraphs, brief outlines, and a rather ugly boxer in three-quarters profile at the start of each chapter. Or is it a Victorian novel in the guise of a time-traveling tale, or a highly comic romp, or a great, allusive literary game, complete with spry references to Dorothy L. Sayers, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle? Its title is the subtitle of Jerome K. Jerome's singular, and hilarious, Three Men in a Boat. In one scene the hero, Ned Henry, and his friends come upon Jerome, two men, and the dog Montmorency in--you guessed it--a boat. Jerome will later immortalize Ned's fumbling. (Or, more accurately, Jerome will earlier immortalize Ned's fumbling, because Ned is from the 21st century and Jerome from the 19th.)

What Connie Willis soon makes clear is that genre can go to the dogs. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a fine, and fun, romance--an amused examination of conceptions and misconceptions about other eras, other people. When we first meet Ned, in 1940, he and five other time jumpers are searching bombed-out Coventry Cathedral for the bishop's bird stump, an object about which neither he nor the reader will be clear for hundreds of pages. All he knows is that if they don't find it, the powerful Lady Schrapnell will keep sending them back in time, again and again and again. Once he's been whisked through the rather quaint Net back to the Oxford future, Ned is in a state of super time-lag. (Willis is happily unconcerned with futuristic vraisemblance, though Ned makes some obligatory references to "vids," "interactives," and "headrigs.") The only way Ned can get the necessary two weeks' R and R is to perform one more drop and recuperate in the past, away from Lady Schrapnell. Once he returns something to someone (he's too exhausted to understand what or to whom) on June 7, 1888, he's free.

Willis is concerned, however, as is her confused character, with getting Victoriana right, and Ned makes a good amateur anthropologist--entering one crowded room, he realizes that "the reason Victorian society was so restricted and repressed was that it was impossible to move without knocking something over." Though he's still not sure what he's supposed to bring back, various of his confederates keep popping back to set him to rights. To Say Nothing of the Dog is a shaggy-dog tale complete with a preternaturally quiet, time-traveling cat, Princess Arjumand, who might well be the cause of some serious temporal incongruities--for even a mouser might change the course of European history. In the end, readers might well be more interested in Ned's romance with a fellow historian than in the bishop's bird stump, and who will not rejoice in their first Net kiss, which lasts 169 years!

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:32 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"Ned henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940's 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 traveller, 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"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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