Growing up I was crazy about the concept of time travel. Perhaps I watched a bit too much Dr. Who, but the idea of going back and forth through time absolutely thrilled me. I would picture myself living in a spaceship with my very own robot. Some things never change, I’m still a day dreamer (although I don’t have a robot), and I still enjoy a good time travel story. Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my all-time favorites. This book is classified as science fiction but it is one of the most genre-blending novels I’ve read. With a bit of mystery, a dash of adventure, some comedy, and a healthy dose of historical romance, there are elements that I think would appeal to just about anybody.
The story begins at Oxford University in the year 2057. We encounter historian and time traveler, Ned Henry, who really needs a rest. After all, he was just recently commandeered by wealthy American, Lady Schrapnell, to retrieve a relic from a cathedral before a WWII air raid. After a series of misguided “jumps” to obtain the mysterious “bishop’s bird stump,” Ned is suffering from a serious case of “time lag.”
Unfortunately, Ned’s holiday plans are abruptly halted when he learns that another historian has accidentally brought something back from Victorian England. To make matters worse, he appears to be the only one available to go back to 1888 and return said object. Grumpy and disoriented, he lands in the wrong location, not knowing what exactly it is he is suppose to bring back. He eventually hitches a ride down the Thames with a few young men, an Oxford professor, and a bulldog. One of the young men is attempting to meet a woman he cares for (who happens to be an ancestor of Lady Schrapnell.) The only problem is…the woman is destined to marry someone else and if she doesn’t the course of history could be altered forever. Together, Ned and fellow time traveler Verity Kindle stumble along as undercover Victorians to set things right. Along the way, there are a string of memorable characters and hilarious situations. This is a comedy of manners that I’m sure will delight!
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