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To Say Nothing of the Dog

by Connie Willis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Oxford Time Travel series (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,2642711,311 (4.13)1 / 811
Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s 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 traveler, 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.… (more)
  1. 171
    Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome (Medellia, rakerman, kittycatpurr, wookiebender)
  2. 183
    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. 70
    Time and Again by Jack Finney (Kichererbse)
  4. 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.
  5. 50
    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. 11
    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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» See also 811 mentions

English (268)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (271)
Showing 1-5 of 268 (next | show all)
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis (Vol. 2 of the Oxford Time Travel Series) (4 stars)
Although this may be classed as volume 2, you in no way need to read volume one in order to enjoy this book. Even though I have read vol. 1 (The Doomsday Book), the novels are very different in tone. Vol. 1 is about time travel to the time of the Black Death, a much more somber subject, and Vol 2 is time travel to the Victorian Era and a tongue-in-cheek parody of an earlier Victorian work entitled Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome. The characters are familiar in both volumes and the apparatus of time travel is the same in the two books, but they are both very different novels and enjoyable individually. Not quite what I was expecting after the Doomsday Book, but an enjoyable read in between heavier subjects.
This one is much lighter in tone, uses a lot of humor and makes fun of social stereotypes of the era. The scientists are traveling back in time to change an aspect of history and save a cat from drowning because cats have become extinct in their future world. It’s not hard-hitting science fiction going into the details of time travel, but more of a lighter historical romance piece but still enjoyable in its own way. It shows the author can be versatile in her styles of writing. ( )
  kaida46 | May 27, 2022 |
I get confounded by time travel stories. This is a time travel story. I got confounded. In the midst of my confusion there were some glimmerings, and I had a chuckle or two, but not enough for a four star rating. ( )
  Neilatkallaroo | Apr 7, 2022 |
Willis' Oxford Time Travel series are always fun adventures and this is no exception. This one takes us to Victorian England and has a lot of mysteries for the historians to solve. I liked the characters and the sense of time and place. The plot kept me guessing without being too technical with its time travel explanations. There were plenty of fun mentions of literary classics - but some of the discussions spoiled classic mysteries that I had hoped to read soon. Overall a fun read that was light enough to entertain, but deep enough to hold my interest. ( )
  Cora-R | Feb 25, 2022 |
The opposite feel from the Doomsday book. Light and full of whimsy. Mistaken assumptions. Verity is a fan of classic mysteries. Lots of references to Agatha Christie and Peter Wimsey. ( )
  nx74defiant | Oct 24, 2021 |
This was a fun book, and I'd put off reading it because I'd understood that it heavily referenced (if not was an outright homage to) Three Men In A Boat, a book that I was unfamiliar with. In addition, I remember the first book (Doomsday Book) being a bit heavy. So as prep, I started Three Men In A Boat, and decided that after a chapter or 2 that I didn't need to finish it, and that I got the general gist of the book.
On to THIS book, then. And except for the chapter headings? summaries? and only a small few mentions of 3MIAB, I found that I'd definitely been over-sold on the necessity of being familiar with 3MIAB. Also, I'd like to take this opportunity to state that the chapter heading/summaries gimmick wore out REALLY fast. Nothing like spoiling your own book in the middle of it.
Anyway, this story was crazy-complicated (as all good Time Travel books should be), especially at the end as they were trying to tie everything together. But it was a lot of fun, and there were some very funny parts. The whole tone of the book was so much lighter than Doomsday Book, and I appreciated the minimum amount of exposition needed to explain Time Travel and the net.

Audiobook notes - the narrator did a nice job of making distinctive voices, and if there were any mispronunciations I didn't notice them. ( )
  KrakenTamer | Oct 23, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 268 (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

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Willis, Connieprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berry, RickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dinyer, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Górska, DanutaTł.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lagana, Randy J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lautenschlag, ChristianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marín Trechera, RafaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pugi, Jean-PierreTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sinclair, JamesDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vigne, JoanIntroductionsecondary 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.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Ned Henry is badly in need of a rest. He's been shuttling between the 21st century and the 1940s 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 traveler, 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.

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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.
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