This is so different to Doomsday Book, the first novel in the Oxford Time Travel series. For a start, this book is funny. It is all literary references and sly humour and irony and I did not expect that, given the pervasive, plague-based trauma of the previous novel. Not that there was no irony to be had in the last one, but this one takes it to extremes, and it is delightful.
The story centres around Coventry Cathedral, which was destroyed in the Blitz during World War II. While a new one was built right next to it during the ensuing peacetime, the ruins remain, and in the time travelly future of this novel, the masterful Lady Schrapnell is determined to restore the original edifice. She demands the assistance of time traveller Ned Henry, who was recently in the 1940s, but Ned is suffering from time lag, and so is sent to the idyllic near-pastoral surrounds of the late-nineteenth century Coventry to both retrieve a significant object and get some rest.
But when there he — and his junior colleague Verity — discover that they may have accidentally Butterfly Effected the future, and so they spend the next several hundred pages alternately trying to break up non-historical relationships, getting out of attending jumble sales, restoring order to the space time continuum and falling in love.
It is the best.
And I now have to go and read Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men and a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), to which this book appears to be something of an homage — Jerome himself, and his boat, make a cameo — and which has been on my shelves lo, these many years. (Of course.)
I really, really, really loved this book. Admittedly, it took me a while to get into its surreal and kind of nonsensey vibe, but once I was there, I never wanted to leave.
TBR DAY 266: To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel #2) by Connie Willis
GENRE: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
TIME ON THE TBR: 5 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Op shop.