To Say Nothing of the Dog is a delightful book melding the genres of English country house mysteries and scifi/time travel with a little PG Wodehouse tossed in. It sounds weird, but it works, and is, like the Flavia de Luce mysteries, good clean fun.
The story is set in the future and in the mid 1800s in Oxford and its environs. At least I think Coventry is in the environs of Oxford, but I could be wrong about that. If I ever find myself in need of traveling between the two, I shall consult a map. In any case, the only real sci-fi element to the book is the time travel, which is not for the purpose of changing history (at least not on purpose) or for any geo-political gain, but rather for creating a historical reproduction of a cathedral that was bombed during the Blitz. A very wealthy patron decided to give future Oxford a lot of money to have its historians travel through time to collect information and specs for the cathedral, and two such historians become the hero and heroine of the novel.
In the course of mixing things up and getting stuck in various times, the main character and his side kick stumble into lots of funny situations involving spoiled society girls, butlers, jumble sales, and exotic fish. Like any English country house mystery worth its salt, the story becomes all convoluted and just when you think you know what’s what, it’s all set on its head. In the end, the mystery is mostly solved, and all’s well that ends well.
To Say Nothing of the Dog is not meant to be historical fiction, although if you read a lot you will enjoy the references to cultural miscellany and quotes from other authors, but it is a really fun read and highly satisfying. I’d recommend it.
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