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To Say Nothing of the Dog or how we found…

To Say Nothing of the Dog or how we found the bishop's bird stump at… (original 1998; edition 2000)

by Connie Willis, Steven Crossley (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,988218912 (4.16)1 / 661
Title:To Say Nothing of the Dog or how we found the bishop's bird stump at last
Authors:Connie Willis
Other authors:Steven Crossley (Narrator)
Info:Recorded Books (2000), Edition: Unabridged, Audio Cassette
Collections:Your library
Tags:Victorian, steampunk, science fiction

Work details

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (1998)

  1. 150
    Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (Medellia, rakerman, kittycatpurr, wookiebender)
  2. 172
    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.
  3. 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.
  4. 50
    Time and Again by Jack Finney (Kichererbse)
  5. 40
    Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (Pagemistress)
  6. 41
    Scholarly 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)
  7. 20
    Farthing by Jo Walton (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both mashups of classic British mysteries and science fiction.
  8. 64
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (hiredman)
  9. 20
    The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Kichererbse)
  10. 21
    Love Among the Chickens by P. G. Wodehouse (gaialover)
  11. 10
    Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  12. 00
    My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen (isabelx)
    isabelx: Both are very funny time travel stories.
  13. 11
    What Ho, Automaton! by Chris Dolley (Keeline)
    Keeline: Also a light Victorian mystery/romance with a Wodehouse feel
  14. 01
    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 (215)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (218)
Showing 1-5 of 215 (next | show all)
Reading "Three Men in a Boat" before reading this really does add to your appreciation of the novel. ( )
  youkosiren | Aug 22, 2016 |
A bit too verbose at times, but still slightly funny time travel story. ( )
  Guide2 | Jul 21, 2016 |

Ned Henry and Verity Kindle are time travelers, working for Oxford's history research department. The program has been commandeered by wealthy heiress Lady Schrapnell, who is employing historians to research Coventry cathedral, which was bombed by the Nazis in 1940, never rebuilt, and had its site turned into a mini-mall in 2018. She has begun a project to reconstruct the cathedral on Oxford grounds. Verity Brown, while on assignment in 1888 to investigate the life of Lady Scrapnell's ancestor Tossie Mering, rescues a cat from drowning, and set in motion of series of events that threatens to unravel the course of history. Ned Henry is sent back in time with the cat, to try to restore the timeline. At stake is the outcome of World War II and all of its subsequent affects on the future.

While investigating the disappearance of the bishop's bird stump from the Coventry cathedral on the night of the raid in 1940, Ned Henry is pulled from the field with symptoms of time lag. At the same time, Verity Brown arrives from 1888, bearing with her a cat named Princess Arjumand, which she rescued from drowning in the river. As the cat is the first thing historians have ever been able to bring forward in time, there is instant worry about the impact its disappearance has made on the time continuum. Verity returns to her posting, where she is trying to recover pages of Lady Schrapnell's ancestor Tossie's diary. Ned Henry is given the task of returning the cat.

Ned arrives in 1888 and quickly befriends a young man named Terence, who has fallen in love with Tossie Mering. The two rent a boat and row down the river Thames accompanied by Terence's bulldog Cyril, for a rendezvous Terence has arranged with Tossie. On the way, they rescue Terence's mentor, Professor Peddick from drowning. After a brief meeting with Tossie and Verity Brown, who is undercover as a cousin of the Merings, the three men row to the Mering's estate, Muching's End.

At Muching's End, they return Tossie's missing cat. Verity tells Ned that Tossie is suppose to marry a man whose name begins with a 'C,' but when Terence and Tossie announce their engagement, Verity worries that her rescue of the cat has upset the timeline. Tossie's diary, the parts of which that are not damaged, is being studied in the future. It reveals that Tossie is soon to have an experience that changes her life and leads her into the arms of her husband. The event is to take place in Coventry cathedral and somehow involve the bishop's bird stump.

Ned and Verity use a fake séance to maneuver the Merings into visiting the cathedral on the fated day, but nothing remarkable seems to happen, except that Tossie has a dispute with the family's butler Baine over the artistic merits of the bird stump.

The timeline seems to have been disrupted. Tossie will not marry Mr. 'C,' leave for America, and found the movie studio which begins Lady Scrapnell's family empire. Terence will not marry Maud Peddick and have a son who flies an important bombing mission during World War II. Also, it appears the disappearance of the bird stump from the cathedral on the night of the raid in 1940 has somehow compromised the Allied decryption program Ultra.

But, after a confrontation in the garden at Muching's End, Tossie elopes with the butler Baine, who turns out to be the mysterious Mr. 'C.' The timeline repairs itself, and it is left to Ned and Verity to put the pieces of the mystery together and recover the bird stump in time for the consecration of the new cathedral. ( )
  bostonwendym | Jul 12, 2016 |
I'm just glad that, about 3/4 of the way through, it was finally explained to me what "The Bishop's Bird Stump" was. This rollicking good read is like Pride & Prejudice meets Agatha Christie meets Monty Python meets 12 Monkeys - along with a dash of The Anubis Gates. A bit confusing at the start, and it bogs down in details here & there, but I was smiling as I finished. ( )
  ScoLgo | Jun 15, 2016 |
Although this book is most likely very enjoyable if you haven't already read Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome, you can increase your reading enjoyment by delving into that one first, and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

This is a time travel book, and although I'm not a big SciFi/time travel reader, I loved this one. Once again, there are three men in a boat, to say nothing of the dog, in Victorian England, mostly. There is a cathedral to be rebuilt, and the Bishop's Bird Stump to be found, and a taskmaster who insists that everything be done NOW, no matter how much time travel is required.

It did take me a few pages to get into the travel thing, to understand what was going on, and there was, to my taste, a little too much about time travel slippage. However, the characters are funny and endearing, and travel along the Thames brings adventures, often rather soggy ones. The dog and the cat in this story are wonderful. Altogether, a delightful story. ( )
  TooBusyReading | Jun 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 215 (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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dinyer, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marín Trechera, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinclair, JamesDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, Jamie S. WarrenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"...a harmless, necessary cat"--William Shakespeare
"God is in the details."--Gustave Flaubert
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.
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.
Last words
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:33 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Ned Henry is sent back in time to the 19th century to obtain the original plans of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by the Nazis in World War II. A rich American wants to rebuild it. Problems arise when Henry's lady friend saves a cat from drowning, an act that threatens to alter history. By the author of Doomsday Book.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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