Book Cover
Title To Say Nothing of the Dog
Author Connie Willis
Cover Art Eric Dinyer
Publisher Bantam - 1998
First Printing Bantam - 1998
Book Cover
Title Three Men in a Boat
Author Jerome K. Jerome
Cover Art ---
Publisher Publishing - 2005
First Printing ---
Category Time Travel
Warnings None
Main Characters Ned Henry, Verity Kindle, Terrence St. Trewes, Tossi Mering, Cyril
Main Elements Time Travel

To Say Nothing of the Dog

From Connie Willis, comes a comedic romp through an unpredictable world of mystery, love and time travel...

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.

Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat is the story of three Englishmen who pile into a boat with food, clothes, and a fox terrier named Montmorency and set off on the Thames to see the English countryside. Three Men in a Boat is a first-class masterpiece. As the three well-to-do upper class gentlemen set out on their excursion they are beset by a series of comic mishaps. Jerome K. Jerome masterfully weaves a tale that is a hilarious critique of the self-centered behaviour of the English upper classes so typical of Victorian England.

Now this review is really supposed to be about "To Say Nothing of the Dog", but you see, this novel is best appreciated if you first read Jerome K. Jerome's classic novel, "Three Men in a Boat - To Say Nothing of the Dog." I'd never heard of it before, but I think this is going to be one of my favorite books, notwithstanding the fact that it is not a fantasy novel but rather a comic tale of three Victorian gentlemen in a boat...and their dog, musn't forget Montmorency! I HIGHLY recommend reading this. The language is beautiful and it is truly funny and insightful.

But I'm here to tell you about the time travel tale inspired by this book. I enjoyed it, though I spent good parts of it getting my brain turned inside out trying to understand the consequences of changing the past, the scientific basis, and the theories surrounding it. But that was partly because the characters themselves were either so greatly Time-Lagged that they had Difficulty Discerning Sounds, or were as much in the dark as the reader was. But really, it's all about the story and the characters, both of which I enjoyed (though not as much as Three Men in a Boat!). It is also a mystery spanning the building of Coventry Cathedral in 1395, its destruction during World War II and its rebuilding in 2057. And the Bishop's Bird Stump. How can you not enjoy a mystery when the goal of said mystery is to find the Bishop's Bird Stump...that object being a mystery itself. The only thing we know about it is that it is truly hideous.

And there's the dog...and the cat. And the humour of having someone from 2057 Oxford thrown nearly unprepared into the Victorian era where he has to quickly figure out proper manners before he makes an irreparable faux-pas. That and figure out if he's supposed to change the course of events, or set them right, and hopefully not make a bigger mess of things, without actually knowing what exactly *is* the right thing, how things *should* turn out.

With an odd-ball cast of characters (not so different from Jerome K. Jerome's cast and crew, or at the very least, no more competent) this novel takes you on a very interesting journey, to say the least. If nothing else, it leaves you to wonder how much influnce an individual person has over history, and how much outside forces control our destiny.

Posted: June 2007


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