Doomsday Book (Oxford Time Travel #1)
by Connie Willis
(science fiction, time-travel)
This is the first book in the series, but I read it second. (I read book 2, To Say Nothing of the Dog, first.) I really enjoyed this book. One thing I’ve noticed about Willis’ writing style, though, is that it’s very deliberate. Don’t read her books expecting a fast-paced adventure romp. Expect a detailed read that is incredibly well-researched and planned, with deep characters (even though not all of her works show the character development of the minor characters, you can tell that they have a background and aren’t placeholder characters). But the pacing is deliberate. (I personally can’t call it slow, but some readers might.)
As a basic summary: this book has a split POV and simultaneously follows Mr. Dunworthy in future England and Kirvin in medieval England. Kirvin time-travels back to the 1300’s at the start of the book, and Dunworthy remains in the timeline she traveled from. There are complications, of course, starting with a flu epidemic that seems to be everywhere. Without getting into spoilers, I found it fascinating to see how the middle ages were portrayed here. Really nicely done.
If you’re like me, there will be some aspects of this story you see coming. There will be others that are more surprising, but it’s not a mystery novel so there aren’t major plot twists at the end. I did find it fascinating, though, how even some of the more minor (one could say inconsequential) details of one timeline impacted events in the other timeline. This book was masterfully woven together, and while it’s not for everyone, those who do enjoy it will love the detail put into it.
Warning: there is lots of death in this book (including children and an animal or two). It fits the plot, but still. If that’s a trigger for you, maybe skip this one.
Rating: 5 stars