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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living history
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Kivrin, a time-travelling historian, is mistakenly sent back to a Medieval village near Oxford as the Black Death is about to strike, and sees all around her succumb to the Plague. At the same time, in her home time, a flu pandemic is laying waste to Oxford, stopping any attempts to find her and bring her home. Unlikely as...
Published on 24 Mar. 2006 by R. Plachcinski

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit of a Chore to Read, but Ultimately Quite Moving
The book was touching but often quite tedious to plod through. I usually enjoy Sci-Fi, factual history and historical fiction. Unfortunately the plot required a considerable suspension of disbelief. For example, though part of the novel is set in 2054 people are hard to get hold of, protagonists have to wait for long-distance telephone calls, characters are out of contact...
Published on 10 Dec. 2011 by W Steedman


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living history, 24 Mar. 2006
By 
R. Plachcinski "stroppy_brunette" (West Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Kivrin, a time-travelling historian, is mistakenly sent back to a Medieval village near Oxford as the Black Death is about to strike, and sees all around her succumb to the Plague. At the same time, in her home time, a flu pandemic is laying waste to Oxford, stopping any attempts to find her and bring her home. Unlikely as it may sound, this novel also contains some wonderful comic moments - William, Mrs Gaddson, Finch and the American bellringers, to name but a few. I am absolutely caught up in this story and unable to put it down every time I read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not perfect, 3 Mar. 1999
By A Customer
This book really isn't sci-fi - it uses time travel as a way of introducing the middle ages. Anyone expecting technical marvels will be disappointed. Instead this is a very solid, emotional story. I'm a 29-yo male computer engineer and I almost cried at the end. The lack of technical detail didn't bother me. In fact, it was refreshing because so many sci-fi authors try to describe tech in great detail and just end up showing how little they really understand. This book is about the plague, carries a great many details of the 1300's and is a story that educates and involves the reader. The characters are most certainly not cardboard - people who say that just read this book for the wrong reasons. My only nitpick is that the very end (the rescue) was too predictable, and I skimmed most of it because I knew what was going to happen. Perhaps the part I liked the most wa sthe brutal reality of things not going the way of the main characters in either time periods. I've had days like that myself.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Once you start, you can't put the book down., 18 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Doomsday Book (Paperback)
The evocation of the sheer nastiness of the 14th Century is brilliant. There is mounting horror as the natives of that century succumb to the Black Death over a Christmas period, witnessed by the appalled time-travelling scholar from our own near future. Some of the scenes are heartrending, as there is plenty of time to get attached to the characters before they start to become ill.
In alternate chapters the contemporary situation in Oxford at Christmas is explored, where an outbreak of highly contagious and fatal flu has broken out, thereby preventing a rescue party from setting up the equipment necessary for retrieving the scholar. The quarantine, medicalisation and bureaucracy of the situation in contemporary Oxford contrasts sharply with the superstition, dubious medicines and appeals to the Almighty that exemplify the 14th Century.
If it sounds unrelentingly grim; it isn't. There is a lot of humour, with fun being poked at characters who are vain and officious in BOTH centuries.
Anyone who has lived in/ studied in/ visited Oxford will find much to recognise in the description of the town, especially the University. Immerse yourself in this book over a summer's day, and you will surface from it as I did: wondering why it isn't freezing cold and surprised to find that you're still healthy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time-travel is not always what it's cracked up to be!, 13 July 1997
By A Customer
The heroine of Connie Willis's award-winning Doomsday Book is a grad student in history at an English university in the near future. She's gotten approval to go back in time to the 14th century to do on-site research. Armed with her implanted language decoders and her anti-plague shots, she's sent back by an operator who is coming down with a contemporary plague and makes a mistake, putting her smack-dab in the middle of an area soon to be over-run by disease. As she struggles to get back to her own time, her mentor struggles to get her back as well, but bodies are piling up---all over time. A gripping, emotional read that transcends the barriers of genre fiction. Science-fiction is the category that's been assigned to this title, but it is so much more...mystery, romance, historical fiction... A terrific read that will stay with you. You know the cliche, "I couldn't put this book down!" Here, it's true---I hated coming to the end, I loved all the characters so. Jo Manning (drmwk@juno.com)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A BRITISH VIEW, 5 Jun. 2006
By 
K. Brazier (Canterbury, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Doomsday Book (Paperback)
I picked this book up in the States a few years ago, read it several times, and have now ploughed through nearly as many reviews as pages! From an English point of view, Connie Willis's view of bureaucracy is spot-on, weather perfect (it's always raining here, and the characters' obsession with minutiae of life - Finch and the lavatory paper - well observed. The Americanisms add to the joy of her writing (Colin's muffler - isn't that a scarf?) I lived near Oxford as a girl, and still wonder where the actual village was...

The story is a gem, and has me weeping every time I re-read it. Kivrin is as real as can be imagined, as is Dunworthy, Colin and Fr Roche. Don't be put off by the bad reviews!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best I read, 8 Dec. 2004
By A Customer
What can I say, one of the best books I've read.
Characters are real and interesting, Kivrin is simply wonderful. I missed her, having finished the book and that's what counts. If one doesn't miss the main characters, the book hadn't hit the spot. I miss most of them. I was left amazed by the detailed, interesting and flowing description of Medieval England and enjoyed every moment. The Plague seemed real and I got to feel, to a great extent, the demanding reality that was real for people then.
Finishing the book, I felt that I've lost a friend. Kivrin is the sort of girl whom I would have wanted to meet and get to know better, had she been real. I think there isn't a greater complement for a Writer.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit of a Chore to Read, but Ultimately Quite Moving, 10 Dec. 2011
By 
W Steedman "Alexei" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The book was touching but often quite tedious to plod through. I usually enjoy Sci-Fi, factual history and historical fiction. Unfortunately the plot required a considerable suspension of disbelief. For example, though part of the novel is set in 2054 people are hard to get hold of, protagonists have to wait for long-distance telephone calls, characters are out of contact with each other, there's no internet, no mobile phones. I like to read speculation of future tech, but in this novel 2054 seems more like an alternate version of 1980. Despite the length of the novel there is virtually no discussion nor description of the societal structures nor of the time-travel technology. Time travel is apparently available only to squabbling history departments of academic institutions. The lives and interactions of the characters in the 14th Century seem less implausible. The unfortunate fates of many of the 14th Century 'natives' were quite harrowing. I did find the book a bit of a chore to read, but ultimately quite moving, despite its flaws.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but could've been more, 18 April 1999
By A Customer
In all, a good read. The medieval parts, especially, seemed pretty realistic. I enjoyed Kivrin's struggles with Middle English before the translating device finally kicked in. The characters in the 2ist Century were mostly meant to be droll, I know, but I didn't find them all that amusing. Yeah, the ending was sad. Too bad Kivrin's rescuers couldm't have gotten there in time to save one or two of her friends. Actually, for a while I thought Father Roche was going to turn out to be a time traveler, too. The way he prayed was similar to the way Kivrin talked into her 'corder. Moreover, we have to suppose that the art of time travel was pursued and refined way past the 21st Century--in fact, into the indefinite future. So why could Roche not have been a traveller from, say, the 25th Century? It would have made for a more interesting book....
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favourite books!!, 26 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Doomsday Book (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I am so delighted to see that this book is back in print. I'm not much of an SF fan, but I do love good historical fiction so when a friend recommended this to me way back in the early 1990s I did read it and it has been a firm favourite ever since. In this wonderfully researched story, our heroine Kivrin travels back in time to 14th century England from her (slightly in the future) Oxford College, where she is studying history. What a way to study history!! The plan is that she will return to her studies equipped with a firsthand knowledge of all things medieval, but things don't go to plan. There was a slight error in the programming and Kivrin becomes stranded in an area that is being consumed by the Black Death. She knows she has immunity from this plague, so she tries so hard to help the people around her but gradually they all get sick. Meanwhile back in Oxford another sickness is sweeping through the area, reducing Kivrin's chances of ever getting back to her own time. This is a great read. I am delighted that it is available again. My only complaint is that I loved the original cover and this new one doesn't really work for me.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, 4 July 2006
By 
Whether you are into fantasy or historical fiction this book should have something for you, though I feel it belongs more in the latter category than the former if you were to try and categorise it in just one box. I read this, enjoyed it and have recommended it numerous times. Each time the person I recommended it to thanked me as they also thoroughly enjoyed it.

The fantasy/sci-fi plot may be a little contrived in order to get a modern view on a historic tragedy, but the writing is of high quality, moving, and historically informative. It's a moody piece that helps you understand what it must have been like to live during the tragic years when the Black Death was raging through the English countryside wreaking havoc amongst the insular communities.

I'm not sure that the particular storyline about an epidemic in the modern world was totally necessary, as this did prove a little distracting, but I suspect it was meant as a comparison piece to contrast with the events of the past also being played out.

Criticism is a subjective process. I would therefore urge you to give this book a try as I suspect most of you may well enjoy it.
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Doomsday Book (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
Doomsday Book (S.F. MASTERWORKS) by Connie Willis (Paperback - 8 Nov. 2012)
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