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To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel #2)

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  19,959 ratings  ·  2,350 reviews
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
Mass Market Paperback, 493 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Bantam Books (first published 1998)
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Gail Ann Gibbs Actually, there are two books you don't have to read. The phrase "To say nothing of the dog" is a reference to Jerome K. Jerome's delightful travelog,…moreActually, there are two books you don't have to read. The phrase "To say nothing of the dog" is a reference to Jerome K. Jerome's delightful travelog, Three Men in a Boat, written in 1880's, and full of wry observations about his own Victorian society. Connie Willis also wrote Doomsday Book, with a similar theme and some of the same characters. Both are excellent, but To Say Nothing of the Dog stands alone nicely. (less)
Janelle M Hartman This is thoroughly enjoyable even if you've never heard of Three Men in a Boat.
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9th out of 1,100 books — 3,536 voters
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81st out of 4,965 books — 17,180 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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If ever there was a symphony as book (Beethoven's 8th?), it would be this one. Like a symphony, To Say Nothing is a wonderful composite that is almost impossible to deconstruct. In many books, there might be a chapter that stands out, whether due to brilliance or failure; this is largely a harmonious, excellently written whole, with only one or two incongruous passages near the end. Then there's the writing: amazingly developed and interwoven, it takes a number of incongruous themes and juxtapos ...more
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
Surprising as it may be, this is not going to be one of my overly formatted, nonsensical, gif-filled reviews. This will be a long, very boring review that will not do this book justice. Quite a few digressions to be expected, too. There will be no silly fangirling involved either. My love for this book goes beyond that.

If I had to choose 3 books to take with me to a desert island this would be one of them. I love it more with every reread. Why? Because it's the improbable mix of three of the th
First, know that I am deeply biased when it comes to this book: it's got time travel, which I love with a love that is more than love, and it's got Cyril, who I love with a love that makes my time travel love look like a Tuesday afternoon romance. Plus, it's inspired by - and references, oh my god, REFERENCES! - one of my favorite books, Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.

So, you know, I won't even attempt a qualitative review. I'll just say that this is fun, and funny, and it hits my narra

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became

Two weeks ago I'd not heard of Connie Willis or of this novel. It came into my life because I randomly clicked through to this article in The Guardian when I was looking for something completely different. Had I done my random clicking pre-Goodreads, I may well have passed on this novel, because "science-fiction fantasy" does not describe the kind of novel I generally read. But these days I'm much more adventurous, so I jumped right in.

What fun this was! It's a time travel story that (sort of)
4.5 stars, just to be clear.

Part time travel adventure, part comedy of manners and part mystery, To Say Nothing of the Dog is a little bit of everything I love about books.

To Say Nothing of the Dog takes its name (and much of its sensibility) from the famous novella by Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog. This choice is not incidental, but neither is it overwhelmingly important to the novel as a whole. The story is told through the eyes of Ned Henry, a time travell
A most entertaining adventure where Oxford dons get to meddle with time travel and a chance for the author to exercise her wit and to pay homage to great British authors. Everything is thrown into the pot - from ancient Greek battles to the decisions that sealed the fate of Napoleon at Waterloo, from Shakespeare to Tennyson, G K Chesterton to P G Wodehouse, Victorian morals and artistic expressions, boating on the Thames or the raid that destroyed the Coventry Cathedral in World War II, Lord Pet ...more
Lori (Hellian)
Ah, I was so bummed when this book was over, I would have gladly stayed with these characters for at least a month, that's how delightful they were. Even when Willis writes about the more annoying characters, it's with such bonhomie they become like irritating family members that you hope will leave soon but they are still family so you're stuck with them, and after they leave you can have a good laugh and roll your eyes at their antics. And I miss Cyril and Princess Amahajumed the most, I wish ...more

This was a fun romp -- perfect summer reading, and a nice homage to P.G. Wodehouse, whose books I've really enjoyed. There are enough twists and turns that I'll probably be just as pleasantly surprised by how the events play out in a re-read, too.
Apr 01, 2011 Corinna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Corinna by: Phil Gonzales
Many people know that Three Men in a Boat: to Say Nothing of the Dog! is probably my favorite book. What many people don't necessarily know is that I first read it because I bought a very old copy of it at a book sale, and the reason I bought it was because I had read Have Space Suit-Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein, (to whom To Say Nothing of the Dogis dedicated) in which the main character, Kip, interrupts his father as he is reading HIS favorite book, Three Men in a Boat, in which, he claims ...more
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
May 12, 2009 colleen the fabulous fabulaphile rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to colleen the fabulous fabulaphile by: Goodreads Sci-Fi/ Fantasy Group
2 1/2

I picked up this book because it was the read of the month for the Sci-fi/Fantasy group here on goodreads. Time travel tends to hurt my head, and this was no exception, but that's not what dragged it down.

Honestly, I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like it - but I'll try.

To start with, I felt like it took a long while for the book to actually start. I guess there was too much set-up, or it was belabored too much. I didn't feel like it really got going until well into 200+ pages.

Hannah Grace
Feb 02, 2008 Hannah Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hannah Grace by: John
This is my absolute favorite book. A perfect blend of sci-fi, historical fiction, mystery, comedy, mistaken identity and romance; this book has it all.

Its the not-too-distant future, but time-travel has been around for awhile. Oxford historian Ned Henry is trying desperately to find a hideous Victorian object, the Bishop's Bird Stump, shuttling back and forth between World War Two and the Victorian Era. Meanwhile, another historian, Verity Kindle, accidentally brings something back from the pas
Oh, dear. Every time I see the title of this book it makes me feel anxious. I am almost ashamed to say this in public, but I will be brave: I didn't like it.

I know. Everyone loves it and I can't explain why I don't. Normally I love all the elements that make up this book: time travel, romance, the 19th century. Just to be sure about it I have read it twice over the years; once in traditional book format and once as an audio book. *sigh* It makes me feel defective but there you are. I didn't lik
We all like a good laugh don’t we? But for me comedy works best in TV shows or movies. Humour in print works best in shorter formats, like cartoon strips or magazine articles. I tend to find “comic novels” (not to be confused with graphic novels) problematical. The trouble is I keep expecting to laugh at every page and that is a tall order for the authors. I don’t expect to be thrilled by every page of a thriller or to be scared by every page of a horror novel so I don’t know why I have such a h ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Mike by: A very good real life and goodreads friend
TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG, or How I stopped worrying about the space-time continuum and learned to love discontinuity

This review about a novel concerning time travel is a bit of an exercise in time travel, itself. I had gone to add a book to my to-read shelf and there sat To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis as big as life. Now that can't be right, I thought. I read this in 2010. I loved this book. I'm sure I even reviewed it. I thought. Therefore, there are no read dates I can assign to t
Alexis Hall
This book is the best book.

That is all.

Okay maybe it's not all.

I don't even know how to describe it ... a ridiculously clever, ridiculously funny madcap time-travelling Victoriana-infused romp?

Profoundly Oxfordy as well - full of references and allusions that make me at once feel at one and in on a snooty private joke. Which is a feeling I kinda enjoy. Because I'm a bad person.

Also Lady Shrapnel is the best name for a villain.

Oct 20, 2011 j rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Elizabeth
All of Connie Willis' other time travel books are too long. This one is too short.

That said, I think it is incredibly cruel to create a future timeline with no cats in it. I have seen your future, and I do not want to live in it.

(view spoiler)

(view spoiler)
Reviewing an uncategorizable book--an overbearing billionaress--rebuilding a cathedral--God is in the Details--too much time travel makes one loopy--drowning cats but not this one--fixing the incongruity--hilarity ensues with three men in a boat, to say nothing of the dog--quoting Victorian poetry--hot Victorian chicks and their mothers, to say nohing of their butlers--jumble sales and croquet and Waterloo--a setback--a mistery--a love story, to say nothing of the cat--more poetry--signing the M ...more
Apr 11, 2009 Ron rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ron by: Jon Moss
Shelves: science-fiction
Fantastic story; exquisitely told. The story engaged me from the first chapter. Many books--even good ones--take about fifty pages before they grip me.

Humor and romance help--not hurt--a story, but if the science fiction doesn't work, chances are the whole story falls apart. Willis' works, even though she tells us little about its mechanism. That's all right: this isn't that kind of science fiction.

A key to suspending belief willingly, I believe, is to create a setting in which the story unfolds
As you might have guessed from the name of this book, it was written as an homage to Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome and thankfully, it is as funny.

But the thing that impressed me most was the amount of restraint shown by Connie Willis. Here you are, writing a time travel story, and you have all the options open to you. Kill Hitler! Kill Anakin Skywalker! But nope! Willis does it her own way and she has a different and a more interesting story to tell. Although the book does not dwell m
Ilona Andrews
Jan 07, 2011 Ilona Andrews added it
Shelves: sf
Disclaimer: written as a reader, not as author.

Plot summary: Future Oxford academics need money to fund their research into time, so they make deal with the devil, who is known as Lady Schrapnell, an American woman of steel will and much money. Lady Schrapnell has read a diary of her great grandmother, in which this respectable lady chronicles a life-changing visit to Coventry Cathedral. The diary deeply affects Lady Schrapnell and she decides to create a perfect replica of Coventry Cathedral. S
Part of my March 2010 Hugo Award winner bonanza.

Wow that was really a fun mash-up of historical fiction, time travel and humor! All lovers of time travel and its implications should give this a go. Certainly if you enjoy the zany humor of Douglas Adams, you should give this a go. I might even suggest that if you're a fan of Victorian England and its foibles, you should give this a go. And most certainly, definitely if you know what a penwiper is, you have no choice but to read th
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
It is 2057 and Ned Henry, historian and time traveller, is digging through the rubble of Coventry Cathedral after the air raid in 1940, looking for the Bishop's bird stump. This hideous flower-holder is just one of many artefacts and details Lady Schrapnell has half of England looking for in the past, so that she can spend her pots of money rebuilding Coventry Cathedral where her great-great-etc. grandmother Tossie had her life-changing revelation.

Ned's been on so many "drops" (to the past) in t
Well, I finally found out what a penwiper is.
She started to write and then stopped and frowned at the pen. She pulled an orange dahlia penwiper out of her pocket.
"What are you doing?" I said.
"Wiping my pen," she said. She stuck the pen into the dahlia and wiped it off between the layers of cloth.
"It's a penwiper," I said. "A pen wiper! It's used to wipe pens!"

So obvious, in hindsight, and possible in foresight as well, but that's penwipers for you.
That's Willis for you, as well, because her fo
Moira Russell
A sparkling, witty, hilarious -- almost joyous -- magical romp. While set in the same time-traveling universe as Willis's award-winning novel Doomsday Book and story "Fire Watch" (one of my favourite short stories, sf or otherwise, ever), this book is like high midsummer to the winter of those stories; the second half of Winter's Tale as opposed to the grim first part. I not only laughed, I snorted, chortled, and on many occasions giggled. This book is obviously as deeply researched as Willis's ...more
Jun 27, 2009 Richard rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Richard by: SciFi & Fantasy Group 2009-05 SciFi Selection
This was the Sci-Fi selection for the Goodreads SciFi and Fantasy Book Club for the month of May 2009. Visit this link to see all of the discussions, group member reviews, etc.

I am not a fan of sustained silliness. Actually, I'm not a fan of silliness at all unless it has an undertone of something clever, such as satire or irony. Monty Python and Wallace and Grommit are usually — although not always — easily tolerated, while Bean and Benny Hill are execrable.

Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the
So, it’s 2057, and a time travel device has been developed. But the corporate sponsors and big researchers gave up the project in disgust when it was discovered that, though people can go back to most times, they can not bring anything forward. History is profitless, and so it is left to the historians. When we begin, the project has been overrun by Lady Schrapnell and her enormous donation to reconstruct the cathedral of Coventry, destroyed in a 1940 German bombing. Ned Henry, a historian, and ...more
Not exactly a sequel to "Doomsday Book" but a novel set in the same universe with the appearance of several minor characters from the original. Ned is suffering from time lag, a condition brought about by making too many jumps to the past to try and find the bishop's bird stump. In the future, a rich benefactor is restoring the Covington Cathedral at great expense and wants every detail perfect. She has promised the University funding if she can utilize their time travel technology to make sure ...more
Aug 26, 2014 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scifi & fantasy readers
What a fun romp through time and space and English history. The "now" setting is 2057, with the rebuilding of the Coventry Cathedral. Oh the steps that are taken in the interest of being artistically correct! Our intrepid time travelers are sent back into history to find/correct/undo or whatever needs be done to prevent or help correct the possibility of dreaded incongruities, all while searching for the Bishop's Bird Stump of the book's subtitle.

There are so many incidents that evoke laughs or
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Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis is an American science fiction writer. She is one of the most honored science fiction writers of the 1980s and 1990s.

She has won, among other awards, ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards. Willis most recently won a Hugo Award for All Seated on the Ground (August 2008). She was the 2011 recipient of the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Ficti
More about Connie Willis...

Other Books in the Series

Oxford Time Travel (4 books)
  • Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1)
  • Blackout (Oxford Time Travel, #3)
  • All Clear (Oxford Time Travel, #4)
Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1) Blackout (Oxford Time Travel, #3) All Clear (Oxford Time Travel, #4) Bellwether Passage

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“Cats, as you know, are quite impervious to threats.” 121 likes
“The reason Victorian society was so restricted and repressed was that it was impossible to move without knocking something over.” 33 likes
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