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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
4,5631881,051 (4.18)1 / 567
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; or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis (1998)

Recently added byMatisseLovett, Lindon, AmphipodGirl, jason.rathburn, klhorn, private library, librarygurl, Seraf
  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 (184)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog is a great sequel to one of my favorite books, Doomsday Book. Book two is lighter than book one, which makes sense since the main setting is in Victorian England while book one is set in a small English village during the first cases of the plague, not exactly a light-hearted time. To Say Nothing of the Dog is hysterical from beginning to end with a frantic pace that keeps the reader's attention. It's more of a science fiction novel than Doomsday Book because book 2's emphasis is on an effort to fix an incongruity in the continuum while book 1 leaves Kivrin alone in the past and focuses on her relationships with the people of that period. Both are historical novels, but To Say Nothing of the Dog puts multiple people together in the past, so many of the conversations are pure sci-fi. Most time travel books have paradoxes readers have to ignore to enjoy the books, but Connie Willis has faced that problem head on. In her Oxford Time Travel series there are events that can't happen and places time travelers can't go because the future can't be changed. So what happens when that rule is broken? This is the plot of To Say Nothing of the Dog.

To Say Nothing of the Dog is also an homage to the writings of other authors. One of the main characters, a woman named Verity Kindle, is a fan of mystery novels. Willis uses her to compare the actions of the novel's characters with detectives such as Hercule Poirot from the Agatha Christie books. She also refers to The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. But the main book she honors is Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. The full title of his novel is Three Men in a Boat, to say Nothing of the Dog, so her title came from his. I can't speak to all the other influences from the Jerome book because I haven't read it yet, but I intend to. I also intend to read more of Connie Willis' work.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | Sep 29, 2014 |
This book was a marvelous surprise. I laughed out loud several times and enjoyed all the marvelous literary references.
The only thing that detracted for me was following the somewhat repetitive convolutions of the time line incongruity. The premise of the book is time travel and how to correct for an accidental incongruity.

( )
  blatherlikeme | Sep 28, 2014 |
My first introduction to Connie Willis’ Oxford time-travelers was Doomsday, a dark book with themes of death, disease and the odd vagaries of time travel. Dived into All Clear and Blackout in the same universe, though not nearly as dark, held my interest and made me want to look up everything related to The Blitz and England during World War II.

But what of her first book in this universe?

Checking out To Say Nothing of the Dog was a bit underwhelming at first. The book plods along with the characters looking for the “Bishop’s Bird Stump”, an awful example of Victorian art, while they follow the demands of a clueless matron, Lady Shrapnel, as she uses her influence at Oxford 2057 to recreate the Coventry Cathedral.

The story picks up when our time-lagged hero finds himself in Victorian England, and though Connie’s humor is subtle at times (and downright groan-worthy!) Ned Henry’s adventure is pretty hilarious. His infatuation with Verity (caused by time lag?), his trying to right history and the fear that their interference may prevent the Allies from winning World War II make for some interesting reading.

The author really makes the book a bit too authentic. I spent plenty of time looking up what all these cathedral items were that they were discovering, the flitting from century to century, second-guessing each other as to motives and mysteries, and using Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot as a template to solve the mysteries was fun to read.

Can you imagine a world where cats are extinct? Ned’s clumsy efforts with dogs and cats makes for some laugh out loud moments as well.

Bottom Line: If you’re into mysteries then this book may be for you. The romance is touched on and not well done. However the “continuum’s” trying to correct itself and the convoluted plot, though trying this reader’s patience, still makes for some interesting reading.

Recommended.


( )
  jmourgos | Sep 12, 2014 |
It was a big deal a few weeks ago when I decided that after almost four years it was high time I read a book for the sheer fun of it. I chose Connie Willis' "To Say Nothing of the Dog" which had been on my list for years. Her award winning short story "Daisy in the Sun" remains one of my favorites ever and what could provide more vacation reading pleasure than a book described as a "comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love, and time travel." Too bad I did not enjoy the book.
It's well written, of course. Willis is an accomplished teller of tales. Part of the problem might be that I'm a more critical reader these days, and part of it might be that my expectations were too high. But mostly, I was reminded how much the reading of a novel is an interaction between two people. There isn't just a book. There is chemistry between the book and the mind of the reader and the problem here is that Connie Willis and I don't have enough chemistry together to get through a whole novel.
She's fascinated by Victorian England. A lot of people share this interest, as the whole steam punk genre proves. I don't particularly, and I had no idea that the novel would be so deeply rooted in it. I also seem to lack the genes for fascination with World War Two and with Napoleon, either of which would have helped. I do love the history of lots of other things, mind you, like mountain climbing in the Himalayas and sailing in the south Pacific and you've got my full attention for anything about the Mayans, or the Druids. Not a trace of these were to be found, however, just endless riffs on butlers, chaperones and appropriate cutlery. There were also far more details about an old English cathedral than I was prepared to absorb.
My favorite part of the book involved an intellectual feud between two history professors about whether individual actions could affect the course of history. It was funny, and it showed how silly we all can be when we adhere blindly to a our pet theories. This brings me to the second problem between me and Ms. Willis.
I really, truly do not like her approach to time travel. I winced when I saw the movie "Back to the Future" long ago, explaining to anyone who would listen how you can't go back in history and change things. You can't kill your grandfather and then fade into nothingness. You can't kill off Stalin and destroy the space time continuum. If you can somehow find a way to go back in time then by definition you are on another time line when you get there. You now live in another universe. Kill off who you please, including people who appear to be your grandparents if you can find them, because it won't affect the folks back in your own universe who created you. You are just an alien now, causing havoc in your new home maybe, but destroying nobody's cosmos.
Most of the parts of "To Say Nothing of the Dog" that were not infatuated with Victorian courtship were all about saving the universe from the misdeeds of other time travelers lest the whole universe unravel. "No!" I screamed, just like one of Willis' pedantic professors. "You've got it all wrong! It doesn't work that way." The people on the beach just ignored me.
I finished the book feeling quite disappointed, and turned to the other science fiction fan in my family to vent my frustration. Turns out he read "To Say Nothing of the Dog" a few years ago. He really enjoyed it. What was my problem?
For all my comments on this book please see http://zsquaredblog.org/2014/08/11/to-say-nothing-of-the-dog-and-what-i-learned-... ( )
  SherrieCronin | Aug 11, 2014 |
This is the second novel by the author based around a time travel facility in Oxford in the mid twenty-first century. However, while Doomsday Book had a very strong historical element set during the Black Death, this had a rather ridiculous storyline set in the Victorian era and satirising Three Men in a Boat. I found the main characters mostly rather irritating with the exceptions of the dog Cyril (a lovely depiction) and the long suffering manservant Baine. The convolutions of the time distortions were extremely complicated and not really worth trying to follow as the whole thing revolved around events so inconsequential - why would the timestream choose such a ludicrously convoluted way of correcting an incongruity? The author's imagination is vivid and I kept turning the pages, but ultimately this was rather a disappointment. ( )
  john257hopper | Jul 28, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (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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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 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)

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