Title: To Say Nothing of the Dog
Author: Connie Willis
Page Count: 493
Genre: Ostensibly sci-fi
Synopsis/Thoughts: Oh my goodness. Where has this book been all my life? I loved, loved, loved it! It's got everything...time travel, romance, wit, characters bumbling around making fools of themselves as they try to prevent the breakdown of the space-time continuum. I don't fling around the five-star ratings lightly, but this book deserves every one!
Ned Henry is a time traveler from 2057. His task is to find out if an atrocious piece of Victorian art, a figural urn known as "the bishop's bird stump", was inside Coventry cathedral when it was destroyed by the Nazis during World War II. If he doesn't, his employer, the draconian Lady Schrapnell, will have a fit. She is trying to rebuild Coventry cathedral as an homage to her great-great-great-great grandmother, and every detail has to be perfect. Problem is, he's made so many trips back in time, he's now suffering from a malady known as time-lag (symptoms of which include excessive sentimentality and Difficulty Distinguishing Sounds). Knowing he'll never be able to get any rest with Lady Schrapnell on his case, he escapes to Victorian England, hoping to get some much needed R&R. Because nowhere could be more restful than Victorian England, right? Little does he know that fellow time traveler and part-time nymph (or is it naiad?) Verity Kindle has caused an historical incongruity that could have disastrous consequences. Now it's up to Ned and Verity to babysit Lady Schrapnell's great-great-great-great grandmother, Tossie, in 1888 to prevent the entire world's history being altered. Oh, and Ned still has to find the bishop's bird stump before the christening of the new Coventry cathedral! What follows is a comedy of errors that would make Bertie Wooster proud.
I really cannot recommend this book highly enough. I was chuckling out loud almost the entire way through, but for all its silliness and seeming randomness, everything comes together seamlessly at the end. I think this one is definitely going to end up in my top five all-time favorites