This is one of the first books in a very long time that I considered staying up well past my bedtime to continue reading, almost any of the given nights I was reading this. Usually I am very happy to settle down at my normal time without reading on.
I tried reading this years ago and the mass market edition of the book was just too much.
So if you don’t know about the Oxford Time Travel series by Connie Willis — which includes this book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, Black Out, All Clear and the novella Firewatch….imagine Oxford University some 30-40 years in the future using time travel (with some protections) to study the past and caretake the past.
This book finds Kivrin Engle being sent back to 1320 in order to study the day to day life of pre-plague Oxfordshire for her dissertation. Coinciding with this event, a lab tech becomes ill with an virulent form of the flu and Oxford in 2050 becomes the site of an epidemic of unknown origin. In the meantime, Kivrin misses her drop point and unknowingly ends up in a different time than expected and also physically removed from her ability to go back. Things happen from here.
So I thought this book was remarkably good at creating a sense of pathos, stakes, and humanity. It also brilliantly deals with the issues of time travel and language (not simply giving someone a universal translator).
Also for a book that’s almost 30 years old, imaging the future in 30 years, it only misses the mark in one significant way — we don’t use “telephones” anymore.
But she kind of predicts Brexit in a funny little minor moment.