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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
5,117225872 (4.16)1 / 685
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. 104
    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: A Novel 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 (222)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All (225)
Showing 1-5 of 222 (next | show all)
If the genres of mystery, sci-fi, and historical fiction were able to conceive a love child, this book is it. Connie Willis deftly joins together humorous characters, intriguing timelines, and literary allusion in one easy-to-read volume. From the mysterious-yet-archetypal "Lady Shrapnel" to Cyril the dog, Willis' characters are a pleasure to meet, but are never overwritten (with the possible exception of Tossie). There are only two points that made it less than 5 stars for me. The solution to one of the micro-mysteries becomes glaringly obvious rather early in the narrative, and the "sleuths" (Verity and Ned) are far too slow to get it so that one reads the last 30% of the book with some annoyance. I think the author is making a larger point about assumptions, but for the non-Victorian Era reader, it is a bit unnecessary. There are other times where it feels like Willis is worried about her sci-fi cred, and we get lengthy explanations of timeline and time travel logistics that disrupt the flow of the story. That said, this was an incredibly enjoyable read, and fans of mysteries, literature, and history will find it especially pleasing. ( )
  rebcamuse | Apr 16, 2017 |
Connie Willis does it again - a time travel story that starts out slow and builds to an interesting climax.

This time its time travel to WWII and the reclamation of an artifact (the Bishops Bird Stump) destroyed by German bombing to help recreate the church in a future time.

The author creates hilarious situations with future time travelers traipsing all over England trying to avoid time paradoxes while dealing with local inhabitants and their mores. She also interweaves Jerome K. Jerome's humorous story of Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the Dog) in the the storyline.

This novel is well written, interesting, funny, and has a time travel element - this is a fun read. ( )
  bhuesers | Mar 29, 2017 |
After a slow start ( I think it was the sheer volume of silliness) I found myself eagerly wanting to find out "what happens next". Ms. Willis threatens to make the reader's head hurt trying to comprehend how time travel works amid all the questions of changing history and retrieving objects from the past, etc. But she keeps it all fun with the rather slapdash comedy feeling of her main characters. I quite enjoyed the ending - very satisfying. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Mar 1, 2017 |
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.


( )
  James_Mourgos | Dec 22, 2016 |
this was a really nice funny, romantic book. same universe as DoomsdayBook, but different people, etc. Much lighter. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 222 (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 editionscalculated
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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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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