- Hardcover: 800 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz (20 Oct. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0575099305
- ISBN-13: 978-0575099302
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 5 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,217,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
All Clear Hardcover – 20 Oct 2011
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"Enthralling . . . a story so packed with thrills, comedy, drama and a bit of red herring that the result is apt to satisfy the most discriminating, and hungry, reader."--"The Denver Post""[Connie] Willis can tell a story like no other. . . . One of her specialties is sparkling, rapid-fire dialogue; another, suspenseful plotting; and yet another, dramatic scenes so fierce that they burn like after-images in the reader's memory."--"The Village Voice""Ambitious, and moving . . . with a lovely twist at the end."--"The San Diego Union-Tribune" "[Willis's] re-creation of wartime England is meticulous, energetic and exhaustive."--"The Wall Street Journal" "[A] tour de force."--"The Charlotte Observer"
The thrilling sequel to BLACKOUT, and a superb World War II novel.See all Product description
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The whole story here - both Blackout and All Clear combined - is to my mind about heroes, but not perhaps where you'd expected them. I came to that conclusion "watching" the characters get involved so intimately with the many problems that beset the Home Front during WWII. Eileen's courage and determination through the measles outbreak among evacuees in part one, far away as she was from the bombing of the Blitz. Polly's determination to save lives while driving an ambulance around the city as a FANY - under a different name - and her survival of the 29th December 1940. Both heartbreaking and breathtaking. Michael's trip to Bletchley Park, to a field of inflatable tanks, to Dunkirk and the D-Day landings and finally to Croydon and a printing-press disseminating misinformation to foil the Germans. And Colin, who loved a lady and simply would not give up until he'd won her over and saved the day. There was heroism aplenty among the civilians, living under such intolerable stress and strain, coping daily with the prospect of defeat or death. Connie Willis describes the Blitz in such compelling detail and with such clarity that you feel you were there, holding your breath as you ran past the next crumbling, fire-damaged building before it collapsed.
This may all sound depressing and dire, but it wasn't. There were lighter moments and thank goodness for Alf and Binnie! You read about them in Blackout, well here they are again paying a more pivotal role in the conclusion than you would probably have imagined. They were a wonderful pair, proving more useful to the story than you might have expected as they and Eileen became more close-knit. A family. And then there's Agatha Christie ...
As in the author's previous time-travel stories Mr Dunworthy is the man in charge of the historians adventures, but when he makes an appearance here in the Blitz - a failed attempt to rescue everybody - it shows that even he doesn't understand what effects all these people travelling back in time has been having, will have. Or won't. Basically he is rescued by his charges. They have suffered more than he has and made it through, so it takes one of them to see answers and conclusions he hasn't been able to.
It's hard to be negative about a story that has enthralled and kept me reading early till late, hating to put either book down, but I think I agree the constant hand-wringing about cause and effect was over-done, and sometimes stalled the story. But I loved the visuals evoked by clever and careful description, I felt the emotion of a population at war but not at the front line, suffering all the same. The reality is so many people's stories were never told, their lives unrecorded and silent to history, yet here they are, alive and contributing to the modern world we know. You have to love them all.
It is very poignant that the author suggests how no one who hasn't lived through the previous years of terror, deprivation, death and destruction could understand the sheer jubilation that surrounded VE day. An incredibly valid point and one that poses the question that even if time-travellers were able to voyage back to these landmark events in history, would they truly, ever be able to fully understand them?
And throughout the tale we have tantalising glimpses at another story, one which might explain the eventual destruction of St Pauls the historians of Oxford in 2060 know all about.
A remarkable story, brilliantly told.
First up, I think that Willis is an absolutely astonishing novelist and thus the question that you should be asking yourself is not whether or not you should buy and read these books, but rather which you should read first and how best to consume or avoid reviews in order to ensure that you get the most out of these gems.
In my opinion, it would be something of a crime to set out into All Clear without having first read Blackout and it would be something of a crime to set out into Blackout without having first read the Doomsday book.
From this point on, I'm going to continue on the assumption that you've finished Blackout and are havering about All Clear. If you haven't read Blackout, then the sentences above will tell you what to do now, so away with you to purchase Doomsday Book.
I wish that one of the reviews that I had read of All Clear and Black Out had said this: TRUST THE AUTHOR!
Though the structure of All Clear/Black Out is enormously intricate compared to Doomsday Book the authorial genius which drove Doomsday Book is manifest in Black Out/All Clear and is wholly adequate to the challenges it takes on. Willis tells you that this was a single book that became two books and took eight years to write, but the most two important things that you need to know are that firstly, this is not some clown writer on an episode of Lost, this is a master storyteller on song, and secondly it is not two books because she needs an editor, it is two books because she needs two books. She sets out from page one of Blackout knowing full well where she will be by the last page of All Clear and she delivers the reader there as planned. On my first reading of Blackout/All Clear I was frustrated at sections that I thought were drawing out a plot for the sake of developing tension through the use of standard narrative tricks, I wish that I could go back in time and tell myself to trust the author.
These really are an absolutely astonishing pair of books. Read Doomsday book first, then read Blackout/All Clear in the intended order and trust the author!
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