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Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
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Doomsday Book (original 1992; edition 1994)

by Connie Willis

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,080230884 (4.13)575
Member:divinenanny
Title:Doomsday Book
Authors:Connie Willis (Author)
Info:Bantam Books (1994), New York, Mass Market Paperback, 578p.
Collections:Your library, eBooks, LonCon3, Read, Read 2010, The List, Buy and Get 2010, Readable
Rating:****
Tags:time travel, ukfeb2010, science fiction, 1400s, england, read2010, hugo, fiction, nebula, locus

Work details

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (1992)

  1. 213
    To Say Nothing of the Dog; or, How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis (amberwitch, Othemts, Patangel)
    amberwitch: A much lighter story set in the same universe.
    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. 142
    Blackout by Connie Willis (bell7, loriephillips)
    bell7: Some characters return in this story, set in 1944 England, and involving similar themes of how people react in a crisis.
  3. 92
    Eifelheim by Michael Flynn (Ape)
    Ape: Far from identical stories, but both are sci-fi takes on the black death (Eifelheim: Aliens, Doomsday Book: Time Travel.) There are numerous similarities, and I think if you like one the other might be worth looking into.
  4. 70
    The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein (Kichererbse)
  5. 92
    Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks (labfs39)
  6. 40
    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: A non-fiction book about everyday life in C14th England, written as though you the reader are there. Kivrin would have found this essential reading to prepare for her journey into the past.
  7. 20
    The Annals of Ireland by Friar John Clyn (the_awesome_opossum)
    the_awesome_opossum: The Annals of Ireland was referenced and quoted a few times in Doomsday Book
  8. 20
    Replay by Ken Grimwood (Kichererbse)
  9. 21
    Company of Liars by Karen Maitland (Othemts)
  10. 00
    The Plague by Albert Camus (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books that depict how communities deal with plagues.
  11. 66
    The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (JGolomb)
  12. 02
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: This is another book that really brings a period of history to life around you.
  13. 02
    The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter (JGolomb)
  14. 47
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (cmbohn)
  15. 15
    Timeline by Michael Crichton (labrick)
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» See also 575 mentions

English (226)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  All languages (230)
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
The most tedious, slowest moving audiobook I have ever listened to. It's well written but depressing and very long. I kept listening though, wanted to know what happened. ( )
  angellreads | Dec 17, 2014 |
Time traveling student gets stuck during the Black Death. That part is good, but the writing dealing with current times gets bogged down in pettiness.
  juniperSun | Dec 6, 2014 |
I approached this book with a puntual idea in mind. I wanted to read about time travel in the 14th century, but I thought to find more action. Actually I wasn't disappointed, at all, I liked it and the epidemic theme and all the parallelism between the events unfolding in the present and the foreknown troubled times of the past. The main characters are likeable, particularly Mr. Dunworthy, time traveler Kivrin's mentor and accomplished scholar, and Dr. Mary, the no-nonsense and hardworking doctor overseeing the drop in the past.
In my opinion the most rounded characters are from the present timeline, while those in the 1300's are not so much stereotyped as "flat", we perceive them sorely thru Kivrin's historian point of view, so it's probably on purpose and coherent, but I picked this book for the middle-ages part, so I guess I wanted more from it.
A lot of symbolism is around (the bells for one -> the Americans, the bracelet, the villages belfries' bells) and the book gets very psychological and inward-looking but at the same time quickens its pace in the second half, toward the denouement. Complex themes like religion (of course), morality and salvation are also around.
The parts set in the present are unnerving at times, I got frustrated with all the landline phone-related misunderstandings and to and fro (and why there are no mobiles in 2054?); the assortment of oddball secondary characters whose level of egoism is sickening an gets worse in the contingency of the epidemic, to the border of preposterousness; the characters knack for fainting/getting into confusional state/hanging up an hairbreadth apart from delivering vital information....
Probably all of this is on purpose on the author's part to convey a sense of absurdity and powerlessness, to show how men and children haven't changed so much from the middle-ages to today when confronted with unyielding disasters: when pressed, when despairing humans reactions are stronger, instinctive. There are those who risk everything with complete abandon to save others and those who think about themselves and their interests first and foremost, and those in-between, who may even change through the ordeal, or those who approach dangers and doom with oblivious attitude, or detachment (like Colin and Agnes, the children, or William the libertine). It's all about people (after all the title states it clearly, the Domesday Book of 1086 is about people, as Kivrin's namesake record).
Surely the introspection is nice, and I was satisfied with how the author moved the threads into convergency, but again, I dreaded each time a chapter opened in the present timeline, each time there was a landline phone, a gobstopper or a Ms G. bible reading scene in play (or other little pseudo-comical quirks). It was too repetitive and annoying.
I agree with the general opinion of most other reviewers, this book has good prose, it looks well researched, the author gives us very credible medieval contemps and a coherent situation, the idea behind the tale is intriguing but there are evident flaws and a need for editing, particularly in the present day section. ( )
  Alissa- | Nov 26, 2014 |
I enjoyed the book more than I expected to when I began, and can definitely agree that it earned the awards that it received. I keep finding myself going back and thinking of the characters, interactions and motivations long after I've. Printed in the early 90's, a few things date the book, such as characters waiting around for phone calls. This is completely understandable, given that cell phone technology was still in its infancy, and does not detract from the content at all.

Recommended! ( )
  zephyrsky | Sep 30, 2014 |
This is a very moving book -so much so that I didn't read any novels for a couple of days after finishing this. I just needed to give the characters in this one some time.

The only real flaw is that Oxford in the near future of 2050, feels awfully like Oxford of 1980 with added digital watches and electric kettles. The academic environment has a sense of being timeless (which I rather like - I think Lord Peter Whimsey would have felt right at home)

The sections set in the past feel very very real. The characters live and breathe, and when they die, you feel it.

It's a book I definitely recommend, for the characters and the historical detail.

I wish the blurb on the back of the book didn't confirm one of the main plot points, as the author manages to keep the characters (and thus the reader) in suspense for a long time as to the nature and cause of the illnesses in the present and the past. ( )
  JudithProctor | Sep 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 226 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Connie Willisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobus, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuittinen, TeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sterlin, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"And lest things which should be remembered perish with time and vanish from the memory of those who are to come after us, I, seeing so many evils and the whole world, as it were, placed within the grasp of the Evil One, being myself as if among the dead, I, waiting for death, have put into writing all the things that I have witnessed. And, lest the writing should perish with the writer and the work fail with the laborer, I leave parchment to continue this work, if perchance any man and any of the race of Adam escape this pestilence and carry on the work which I have begun . . . " - Brother John Clyn, 1349
Dedication
To Laura and Cordelia - my Kivrins
First words
Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the laboratory and his spectacles promptly steamed up.
Quotations
I'm in a lot of trouble, Mr. Dunworthy. I don't know where I am, and I can't speak the language. Something's gone wrong with the interpreter. I can understand some of what the contemps say, but they can't understand me at all. And that's not the worst of it. I've caught some sort of disease. I don't know what it is.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553562738, Mass Market Paperback)

Connie Willis labored five years on this story of a history student in 2048 who is transported to an English village in the 14th century. The student arrives mistakenly on the eve of the onset of the Black Plague. Her dealings with a family of "contemps" in 1348 and with her historian cohorts lead to complications as the book unfolds into a surprisingly dark, deep conclusion. The book, which won Hugo and Nebula Awards, draws upon Willis' understanding of the universalities of human nature to explore the ageless issues of evil, suffering and the indomitable will of the human spirit.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:56 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A grim story of a 21st century academic marooned in a 14th century English village being ravaged by the Black Death. Willis' story is the greatest post-modern time travel story of them all, a novel that combines a genre work with all the required components and a tour de force piece of storytelling.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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