I've been writing this review in fits and starts ever since I read the book, almost three weeks ago. Thus the life of a college senior.
To begin with, any book which continually references Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane has to be awesome, right? Answer: yes.
Centered around three Coventry Cathedrals, one in 1888, one in 1940, and one in 2058, the story wends its way from a futuristic, time-travelling Oxford, a sleepy Victorian village, and Coventry in the middle of a German air raid. Our narrator is Ned Henry, one of the Oxford time-travellers. But there's a large, mad cast of characters, including a fellow time-traveller modeling himself on Jeeves, a cat, a dog named Cyril (one of my favorite characters in the book), and the bishop's bird stump.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the relationship between history as we learn it--facts, dates, people's names--and history as Ned experiences it--personal moments, the messiness of it all. He can rattle off all of the facts and numbers, and then in the next paragraph bring me to tears with an account of the bombing of the Cathedral. And then there's the Lord Peter bit, which was just awesome. Naturally. I also liked the sense that just because the characters are from the future doesn't mean that they have all the answers. In fact, they do quite a bit of stumbling around in a fog of misinformed decisions and false assumptions.
I'll definitely be looking out for Connie Willis's other time travel books.
Book source: Inter-library loan
The first of Connie Willis’ time travel books that I tried. I’m glad it was the first–Doomsday Book was so relentlessly tragic that I had to stop reading. This one was thoroughly enjoyable, though it had some serious undertones. Replete with literary references, I found myself absolutely enchanted. [2010 in books]
A re-read. I kept trying to figure out how much they knew at this point, as opposed to Blackout/All Clear. To be honest, while I loved this book, it also lacked some of the emotional power of the last two books. [June 2011]