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To Say Nothing of the Dog or how we found…
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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
4,849208954 (4.17)1 / 639
Member:mathgirl40
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
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Victorian, steampunk, science fiction

Work details

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

  1. 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.
  2. 140
    Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (Medellia, rakerman, kittycatpurr, wookiebender)
  3. 103
    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
    Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede (Pagemistress)
  5. 50
    Time and Again by Jack Finney (Kichererbse)
  6. 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)
  7. 20
    Farthing by Jo Walton (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both mashups of classic British mysteries and science fiction.
  8. 31
    Love Among the Chickens by P. G. Wodehouse (gaialover)
  9. 20
    Job: A Comedy of Justice by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  10. 64
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (hiredman)
  11. 20
    The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers (Kichererbse)
  12. 10
    My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen (isabelx)
    isabelx: Both are very funny time travel stories.
  13. 21
    What Ho, Automaton! by Chris Dolley (Keeline)
    Keeline: Also a light Victorian mystery/romance with a Wodehouse feel
  14. 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 (204)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (207)
Showing 1-5 of 204 (next | show all)
This book was a real stand-out for me! I picked it up after reading some good reviews, and I was pleasantly surprised to like it even better than I expected.
It's a time-travel/mystery/romance which is consistently witty and often downright hilarious. Books which are simultaneously literary and humorous are hard to come by - but here, Willis succeeds amazingly well.
In the near future, time travel has been discovered. It's being used by a wealthy society dame, Lady Schrapnell, in her well-funded pet project - to restore Coventry Cathedral, destryed in a WWII bombing raid. Her time-travelling agents live in fear of her harridan-like ways, especially Ned Henry, who's been assigned to ascertain exactly what happened to the Bishop's Bird Stump (a particularly grotesque and rococo piece of Victorian art).
Indirectly, this assignment takes him to Victorian England, where, affected by severe time-lag (think jet-lag x10) he ends up travelling down the river in the company of a recently-lovestruck young man - and a boisterous dog. The action picks up from there, with a cast of quirky characters, including the ditzy blonde Tossie, the pre-raphaelite beauty Verity, eccentric professors, prudish-and-proper parents, fraudulent psychics, and, of course, Princess Arjumand.
I haven't read "Three Men in a Boat, to Say Nothing of the Dog!" by Jerome K. Jerome - a genuine Victorian comedy that apparently inspired Willis stylistically - but I can say that this book would definitely appeal to any fans of Victorian fiction (experts in the field would, I'm sure, 'get' many things that I missed), as well as classic mystery fans (Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie are referenced more than once), and, of course, sci-fi/time travel aficionados. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The novel, as suggested by the subtitle (How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last), has a plot that is hard to detect at times. It primarily involves time travel itself which is used primarily as a tool for historical research. Although millions were spent to develop time travel as a commercial venture, it turned out to have no profit potential. In this novel the natural laws of the "time continuum" prevent anything of significance from being brought from the past to the future, and also act to keep time travellers away from historically critical events, such as the Battle of Waterloo. One plot thread indicated by the subtitle involves the time travelers search for an artifact known as the "Bishop's bird stump."* However, little progress is made in the search, and the nature of the bird stump is never clearly understood. The scavenger hunt never really developed significant interest for this reader.

To Say Nothing of the Dog is heavily based on Jerome K. Jerome's classic novel Three Men in a Boat (1889). In doing so Connie Willis uses the Victorian novel's sub-title as her title, mentions the novel in the dedication, and has one of the main characters, Ned Henry, who seems to know about as much about Victorian literature as he does about any history, often quote Jerome's novel. It led this reader to wonder why he has so much of the work memorized.

The novel is enjoyable at times, but did not gain traction for me. Each chapter begins with a wonderful epigram from a wide variety of people from Lewis Carroll to Darryl Zanuck. I looked forward to these signposts as much or more than the story. In the end this was a good read, but I would hesitate to recommend it to anyone who was not already a fan of Connie Willis or is more of a dog-lover than I. ( )
  jwhenderson | Feb 8, 2016 |
many of the characters are clueless and irritating ( )
  Claudia.Anderson | Feb 7, 2016 |
A fun story, well-woven and intricately detailed. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
A fun story, well-woven and intricately detailed. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 204 (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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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.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
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Original language

References to this work on external resources.

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 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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