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To Say Nothing of the Dog

(Oxford Time Travel #2)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  32,635 ratings  ·  3,868 reviews
From Connie Willis, winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, 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 Cathedr
Kindle Edition, 514 pages
Published November 18th 2009 by Bantam (first published January 1998)
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Gail 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)

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Start your review of To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)
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 disparate themes and juxtaposes
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
· Previous rating: 5 stars *eyerolls at her 2015 Self of Despicable Book Taste and Total Lack of Judgement*
· New rating: 20 million stars. And a half.

And the moral of this rerererererereread is: Connie Willis’ amazingly clever writing + one of the most beautifully constructed tale ever + the top ranking boyfriend in my High Security Harem (aka Cyril the Bulldog) + time travel + restful Victorian times delightfully wacky Victorian escapades + PG Wodehouse + awesome space-time continuum incongru
Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, favorites
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
Fateful re-read 5/4/18

This is one of my all-time favorite books. From the clever phrases and deep PTSD exasperation to the total eventual collapse of the space-time continuum because of a freaking cat to THE BISHOP'S BIRD-STUMP, I find myself chortling nearly twenty years after the first read and again on the re-read.

We're catapulted through time thanks to the Oxford History Department's time machine put to the disposal of a wealthy American patron who is, let's be frank, NUTS. She's sent seemi
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

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 beca
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
$2.99 Kindle sale, Dec. 11, 2018. While this offbeat time-travel novel is a sequel of sorts to Doomsday Book, they have completely different vibes, and it's not really necessary to have read Doomsday Book before this one. This is one of my favorite books in the world, but it's kind of an odd one that probably won't work for everyone. It's a little bit madcap farce, with people running and time-hopping around trying to find some obscure, ugly piece of Victorian art; it's got a bit of romantic com ...more
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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)
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Sep 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is a revelation, smart and funny, especially a particular mix-up about Cyril. Romance, time travel, history, this book has it all.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
May 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to colleen the convivial curmudgeon 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.

May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the second story about the Oxford Time Travel Institute. It is only loosely connected to the first, namely through Mr. Dunworthy, whom we know from book 1. And wasn't I glad about that (the first book and I didn't get along too splendidly).

It is 2057 (thus, a few years after the first book) and here, Mrs. Schrapnell, a rich and very eccentric (if not to say gaga) American lady is pouring money into rebuilding Coventry Cathedral exactly as it was before the Nazi Blitz during WWII. She has
Kaethe Douglas
1998 Dec 21,
1999 May 15
1999 June 7
2004 Apr 09
2011 Nov 13
2014 Jan 10
2016 Jun 28
2020 May 15

I read it again, and I loved it. This is definitely a comfort read for me. Ah, the madcap chaos of it all. The naughty cat, the charming Cyril, the annoying people. Total love.

Speaking of books I love, down to every last detail, this is on the short list. The Chapter headings! The Tennyson quotes! The classism, sexism, and racism as viewed from a more enlightened viewpoint! The dog! The mystery novels of
Megan Baxter
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Connie Willis I've read, and I was a little leery. While I really enjoyed Passage, Lincoln's Dreams was pretty much the same book, written earlier, and less well. So I was a little worried about her recycling plots. And maybe she does, but this book has very little in common with either earlier book, and was thoroughly delightful and surprising.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to thi
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
Most of this book was four stars for me but then it went and got clever. It ended up being completely brilliant and I got some excellent laughs out of it, especially the end.

Poor Ned Henry has a severe case of time lag and he's been to way too many jumble sales. He's taken nearly 15 trips back to the 1940s to find the Bishop's Bird Stump and he's having no luck. Desperate to avoid Lady Schrapnell he goes to Mr. Dunworthy who promptly sends him back to the Victorian Era to have a bit of rest. He
Hannah Grace
Jan 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I've now read all of Connie Willis' Oxford Time Travel novels and I have to say that I found this one to be the best. The story was intriguing and funny and didn't have any of the ridiculous tension issues of the other books. No communication issues anywhere. No mistaken identities. Yes there were mysteries and things that needed to be resolved but they were handled in a way that made it enjoyable to read, not frustrating.

I look forward to seeing where she takes this series next. Highly recommen
Feb 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer 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
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a real stand-out for me! I picked it up after reading some good reviews, and I was pleasantly surprised to like it even better than I expected.
It's a time-travel/mystery/romance which is consistently witty and often downright hilarious. Books which are simultaneously literary and humorous are hard to come by - but here, Willis succeeds amazingly well.
In the near future, time travel has been discovered. It's being used by a wealthy society dame, Lady Schrapnell, in her well-funded p

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.
So this was a fun little read, with elements of sci-fi time travel, a Victorian era social comedy story, and a 1930's mystery with a very light touch of romance thrown in.

In the future we have mastered the ability to travel through time... only to discover we can't actually bring anything consequential back (sorry people who want to steal the Mona Lisa fresh off da Vinci's easel) and any attempts to change key events are thwarted by the space-time continuum itself. In this way is was a bit like
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
lucky little cat
Such a lovely book that on finishing it, I had to promptly go smooch my husband.*

My favorite-ever Flicker image, which the photographer captioned, "I found the Bishop's Birdstump!"

Willis's most famous novel is a light-hearted romp, a comedy of errors where a put-upon time-traveling civil servant falls In Love at First Sight. Complete with a groaning bulldog and all the fondest clichés about Oxford, including a clever heroine who identifies with Harriet Vane from the Gaudy Night e
"When was the last time I’d eaten? A cup of tea and a rock cake at the Women’s Institute Victory Drive Sale of Work was all I could remember, and that was at least two days and fifty-two years ago."

This was absurd and witty and very, very funny. I’m a sucker for absurd and funny.
Nov 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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)
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.

(4.5) Time travel would normally be a turnoff for me, but Willis manages it perfectly in this uproarious blend of science fiction and pitch-perfect Victorian pastiche (boating, séances and sentimentality, oh my!). Once I got into it, I read this extremely quickly – finishing the final 230 pages on one Sunday afternoon and evening – and it provoked a continuous stream of snorts. I can hardly think of anyone I wouldn’t recommend it to.
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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

Other books in the series

Oxford Time Travel (4 books)
  • Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel, #1)
  • Blackout (All Clear, #1)
  • All Clear (All Clear, #2)

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