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To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)
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Previous BotM--DISCUSSIONS > TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG: finished reading (*SPOILERS*)

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message 1: by Stefan, Group Founder + Moderator (Retired) (new)

Stefan (sraets) | 1667 comments Mod
Here's a general topic for people who have finished reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

Caution: this topic may contain spoilers!


Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments I read this years ago and really enjoyed it. I may pop in if the spirit moves me, but I don't have it in me to re-read this at present.


Mike (mikespencer) | 48 comments I read this a few years ago and I thought it was a cute story, but not overly exciting. One thing I liked in particular was the time travel. I thought Willis had some pretty interesting ideas about how that could work.


Sara (vivianstreet) | 9 comments The ending blew my mind. In a good way, that is.


message 5: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon (jonmoss) | 626 comments I read this three years ago for a different group here at GoodReads. I really liked it (here's my review). I didn't keep a copy of the novel, though, so I can't re-read it to refresh my memory. I like all of Willis' Oxford time travel novels.


carol. | 173 comments This is my first time posting in Beyond group--I was drawn to your monthly read. I loved this book, but I think part of the reason I enjoy it so much is I'm a fan of Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse, and I think Willis is consciously emulating styles from that time period. It definitely isn't exciting in the keep-me-up-until-3 sense, but every time I read it, I find myself chuckling. I'm also very impressed with how well all the plot threads weave together at the end.


Suzanne | 98 comments I'm about 1/3 of the way through, and I'm beginning to think my real life is in some state of time lag! I am constantly thinking "Oh I have an important job to do and...what is it?!" And - "What is that word...it begins with an N..."


carol. | 173 comments ^lol


Nikita (nikita42) So I just finished.

I had read Doomsday Book, which is one of my all time favourites, before reading this book and since To Say Nothing of the Dog is set in the same universe, I was expecting something similar. Even though it wasn't the same, I still enjoyed the book. I loved the quirky humour that was splashed throughout the novel. And how everything tied together in the end was fabulous, thinking back to what had happened in the book, everything works and starts to fit into place. This is definitely a book to read multiple times.


Theresa (gossamerchild) I finished this a while ago, which surprised me. I loved it, it was a great escape from some of the heavier things I've been reading lately. No disrespect meant, either, as I highly enjoyed her writing style. And the humor! Spot on.


Daniel | 22 comments Nikita: I'm glad to hear you say Doomsday Book is a different novel altogether, because I seem to be reading Connie Willis books in a backwards direction. Thanks for helping keep the interest level up!

There was so much to enjoy in this book, but the discussions on time travel -- so central to the premise of the book -- left me cold. I can remember a very long ago reading a time travel book where grass cut through the protagonist's feet like knives, and rain ripped through his body -- all because even the slightest deviation from what happened in the past would create irreconcilable differences in the space-time continuum. That makes much more sense to me than an endless series of "what-ifs", but it admittedly doesn't make for a very interesting or fun story.

I was impressed by how much I was rooting for so many of the characters to succeed. At the beginning of Chapter 13, there is a Wodehouse quote about a young man journeying under a false name, and I actually felt my heart leap when I assumed this to mean that Terence would be revealed as Mr. C. It's not that often I get so involved with a set of characters, and even less often that I am readily fooled into assuming a plot device to be true. My hats off to Ms. Willis for that one. Bravo!

What I found made the story work was the wealth of factual information constantly bandied about and, more than anything else, the slightly off-beat humour that fit so perfectly in a Victorian setting.


message 12: by Shel, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shel (shel99) | 2175 comments Mod
Have any of you read Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog, which was the inspiration for this one? I went and read it after reading To Say Nothing of the Dog the first time. It's hilarious in and of itself, and when I later re-read the Willis I found a lot of references to it.


Daniel | 22 comments Shel: Thanks for bringing up Three Men..., and I totally second the motion. I picked up a copy from Project Gutenberg this morning, and laughed pretty hard when I saw that the almost nonsense introductions to each chapter were taken straight from this book. Then I proceeded to laugh endlessly at the thoroughly foppish yet terribly witty humour.


Theresa (gossamerchild) Actually, I was going to mention something about that and forgot. Thanks for the reminder, Shel. I will have to pick that one up next.


Nikita (nikita42) I had never read Three Men, but after reading this book and now the couple recommendations above, I think I might have to add it to my to read list.


message 16: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kathi | 3154 comments Mod
This was my first Connie Willis book and I will definitely be back for more. She has a deft and sure way of writing that, although I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, was most enjoyable in this book.

I, like many of you, found the wit and humor to be hilarious--yes I really did laugh out loud-- especially during the first two-thirds or so of the book. Tying up the mystery/mysteries seemed a bit contrived, but that sort of fit with the overall style. Baine was my favorite character by far, although Ned and Verity made a likable couple.

All the references to historical events were great, although I have to admit a few were beyond my recall of my history classes.


carol. | 173 comments Many of the historical references were a bit beyond me as well, Kathi, but I thought Willis did a fair job filling us in.

If you like this book, I find the style somewhat similar, but more lighthearted in Bellwether.


message 18: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kathi | 3154 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "If you like this book, I find the style somewhat similar, but more lighthearted in Bellwether. "

Hard to imagine something more lighthearted than most of this book was.


carol. | 173 comments Well, maybe modern lighthearted. The female protag is a fad researcher at a corporation and there's a completely hysterical bit about rolling out a new motto, and a team building exercise that someone cleverly escapes by going to the bathroom (I think my managers might have read it).


message 20: by Kathi, Moderator & Book Lover (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kathi | 3154 comments Mod
Carol wrote: "Well, maybe modern lighthearted. The female protag is a fad researcher at a corporation and there's a completely hysterical bit about rolling out a new motto, and a team building exercise that some..."

Sounds good. I like to have some lighter things to intersperse with other books.


message 21: by Shel, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shel (shel99) | 2175 comments Mod
You'll like Bellwether, Kathi :)

Just be aware that not all of Willis's work is so light-hearted - though all of her books have some humor, books like Doomsday Book and Passage are devastatingly sad in parts.


Maggie K | 298 comments I too am really enjoying the wit and humor...am very glad I finally got to read this!


message 23: by Deedee (last edited Jun 21, 2012 04:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Deedee | 136 comments Finished -- yeah! -- this one has been on my TBR for a long time, glad this group has pushed it to the top of my TBR pile. On balance I liked it -- the seance scenes made me laugh out loud; and I liked the role of cats throughout the story. Willis has a distinctive style which works well with novelettes and short stories. This is the only novel of hers I've read (so far; Doomsday Book has also been on my TBR for a very long time). It does get confusing about halfway through, wheels within wheels and subplots galore. All resolved at the end, though, so all is good. I'll be keeping her other novels on my TBR.


Snarktastic Sonja (snownsew) As I said in the other thread - the not finished one - after really enjoying the sample and then purchasing this book - I really struggled to read through it. About halfish way through, things seemed to pick up, and I am really glad I finished it.

What bogged it down for me was the original boat trip down the Thames. Once everyone met off, and the actual story took off, I really enjoyed it.

While this is certainly not an action packed thrill ride, it was a very entertaining ride through the time continuum. I did really enjoy how everything comes together at the end. Well thought out and plotted.


message 25: by Jim (last edited Jun 27, 2012 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Jim Mcclanahan (clovis-man) | 480 comments I am impreesed with Ms. Willis' overall literacy, her knowledge of Victorian culture and of the literature of that time. Her story of the wayward time travelers seemed clever and humorous. But after 200 plus pages, I found that I needed something besides "clever" to sustain my interest.

I have to confess to being more of a space opera SF buff than a seeker of humor-wrapped tales. Having said that, I also must admit to being a huge admirer of the late Kage Baker's time travel "Company" tales, which also have their humorous side; and also a fan of Fritz Leiber, whose Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories I found fascinating as well as humorous.

But in this case, I found I wasn't interested in the pardox of a cat going to the future and back or whether Lady Shrapnell ever got her Bird Stump. Sorry. I really wanted to like this one.


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