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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doomsday Book
Kivrin, a time travelling scholar, has got permission to visit Oxford in the fourteenth century. She's been inoculated against diseases including the plague just in case, but she is so keen to go she doesn't tell anyone that she had a bad reaction to the plague shot so it may not have conferred immunity. She's accidentally sent to a village just as the first people...
Published on 4 Aug. 2012 by Clare O'Beara

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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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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the descriptions of how tough life was back in the 14th century are beautifully presented, 20 Jan. 2014
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Not quite what I expected, but nevertheless a very good book. I liked the focus on how difficult it would be to communicate in different times. There were a few strange parts to the book, for example I was convinced that umbrellas were going to play a part somewhere as they were continually mentioned. Some of the language was more north American than English e.g. muffler, and eggs and bacon (wrong way round for Brits!).

Written before communication technology grew, so a lot of the problems were based around inadequate phone services - not a problem anymore really. There were some "complaining" characters who were stretched a little. But, despite all of those strange aspects, the overall book was very enjoyable to read. The descriptions of how tough life was back in the 14th century are beautifully presented.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Two Halves, 3 Jan. 2014
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I am not normally a fan of Science Fiction but I enjoyed this book and it even drew me back for a second read. Despite this I have only awarded it three stars. This is largely because the two halves are so very different. The fourteenth century sections are compelling and despite a few anachronisms the narrative is fascinating and easy to follow. For the 21st century however it is a different book. It is not in the slightest bit futuristic and is very repetitive and rather dull; so much so that I found myself flipping ahead page after page. Oddly enough this was less of a problem than one might think as it is a long book and there is enough to read without endless stuff about chiming carols and plastic holly. Not quit SF and not quite historical but worth giving it a try.
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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
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The human side of SciFi, 23 Jun. 2014
By 
Jane Easton "tofu queen" (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I can't believe I've only just come across Connie Willis! Sat up to the wee small hours utterly entranced by this novel and finished it very quickly. Such a beautiful piece of writing. The techno stuff in this novel may be a bit clunky - computers seem almost an afterthought and the videophones seem very much part of the 90s when the novel was written. But that's just background - for me, the most interesting part of any SF is the impact that technology has on beings and their surroundings - human, humanoid, animals and the environment - the emotional and cultural ripples and repercussions. And this has it in spades.It's a mixture of SF and historical novel, just wonderful. There are so many images - tender and brutal - that have stayed in my mind since finishing it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the decade, 2 Mar. 1997
By A Customer
I read Doomsday Book shortly after if came out in paperback and throughly enjoyed it. It is a book I have recommended to friends without reservation. One friend came back to me in hysterics complaining that I hadn't warned her how funny it was. This may seem like an odd comment about a book dealing with parallel plagues, but the humor of the 21st century nicely balances the horror of 1348. I know I'll never hear bells again without thinking of this book. Recently, I picked it up again to refresh my memory on a scene, and was hooked all over again. I started reading from the middle to the end, and then back to the beginning. This book has become my touchstone for the 90's the way Gene Wolfe's Shadow of the Torturer series defined the 80's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing, 2 May 1997
By A Customer
I read two recent customer reviews in amazement. How could any reader of fantasy and/or science fiction not love this book???
The premise of this novel is something new and Ms. Willis makes it absolutely believable. The characters, especially Mr. Dunworthy and Kirvin, are so real that reading the book put a crystal-clear "movie" in my mind. The fact that the author took the time to research a very murky period of history to write the book with detail any history buff will savour is even more impressive. I strongly recommend this book to anyone.

(Another great book by Connie Willis-and a winner of the Newbery Medal- is "Lincoln's Dreams." As a Southerner and a lover of science fiction/fantasy, I found it a must-read.)
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6 of 7 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 12th 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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