Dooms-day Book

Willis, Connie

Book - 1994
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
Dooms-day Book
A grim story of a 21st century academic marooned in a 14th century English village being ravaged by the Black Death. Willis' story is the greatest post-modern time travel story of them all, a novel that combines a genre work with all the required components and a tour de force piece of storytelling.

Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 1994
Edition: Bantam reissue ed
ISBN: 9780553562736
Branch Call Number: SF WILLIS 1994
Characteristics: 578 p. ;,18 cm
Alternate Title: Doomsday book


From Library Staff

A time-traveller is trapped in the Middle Ages, dangerously close to the onset of the Black Plague. Her rescuers in 21st-century Oxford battle their own deadly epidemic to reach her in time.

Kivrin travels to 14th Century England to do research for her history thesis, but lands a few years off the mark. While her professor struggles to bring her back she learns to love a doomed community. Part of Willis’ Oxford history students series.

A crisis linking the past and future, strands an Oxford student in the most dangerous year of the Middle Ages.

From the critics

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Nov 01, 2014
  • InvernessS rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

This was a major struggle to even keep skimming the pages - a huge disappointment for such a promising premise. I was to the point I didn't care about the people at all. What a waste of my challenged vision.

Aug 06, 2014
  • rebalski rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This was a fun, unique read. It's definitely a little dated -- but I personally think that adds to the fun of it. Time traveling to the 1300's? It's good stuff!

Jul 09, 2014
  • birdsandbones rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Fast-paced, fun read. Ending left a bit to be desired, but overall a good read.

Apr 04, 2014
  • jpward rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

According to the New York Times Book Review this is a "Tour De Force". If this is correct, it speaks poorly to the state of American Literature. From a historical point of view this book is well done. However, it is a slow, boring read unless you are an Anglophile and love reading about rain and umbrellas. The bureaucratic conflicts are badly overdrawn and most of the characters are stereotypes of the most basic "British" kind. From a plot perspective, I found it annoying and obtrusive that the characters, who were working with time travel kept having to look for a "call box", (Brit for telephone booth) or a telephone to make calls. You've got time travel but no cell phones. Where were the editors on this one? Took me two weeks to read it, usually takes me 3-5 hours to read a book of this length.
Overall, it's at best a beach book or something to read while storm stayed.

Feb 19, 2014
  • rbeckbro rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A gorgeously written book --- though beware, don't read it if you're already in a melancholy mood! The main protagonist, Kivrin, is smart, determined, compassionate, and well drawn; the setting is vivid and well researched; and the flow of the story will suck you right in.

Dec 13, 2013
  • JCLJulieT rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Outstanding! I lived in this book while I was reading it and was loathe for it to end. The dual settings are the 1300s and the future, which doesn't feel futuristic. It still very Oxford, with brollies and tolling Christmas bells. The 1300s were so richly drawn that I forgot that the author really didn't travel there for reference. And the characters - the icing of all good books - I love them.

Nov 12, 2013
  • crankylibrarian rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Which is more deadly: infectious disease or bureaucratic myopia? Hard to tell after reading this grimly humorous account of a time travel experiment gone wrong. Professor Dunworthy is an Oxford historian in 2054, when time travel has become an accepted part of faculty research. His protegee Kivrin is determined to visit the 1300s, a century that has only recently (and unwisely) been opened for exploration, over Dunworthy's furious protests. When it becomes clear that something has gone awry with Kivrin's launch, Dunworthy's rescue efforts are hampered by university politics, a deadly virus, xenophobia, and plain old stupidity. Meanwhile Kivrin, marooned in 1328 gradually realizes that she has landed in one of the most dangerous of times and places, and fights heroically to protect her new 14th century friends from a growing, implacable menace. Both Kivrin and Dunworthy will discover themselves capable of enduring more trauma than either thought possible. A great historical novel, but sadly it shows its age: Willis' failure to anticipate cell phones and Twitter in an era of time travel result in some ludicrous plot twists, and the minutiae of techno babble drags down the narrative. Still, a gripping story of mean-spirited pettiness trumping scientific breakthrough, and how faith, loyalty and friendship can transcend tragedy.

Nov 06, 2013
  • cfelrod rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the best written scifi books I've had the pleasure to read in a very long time. I found it to be well paced with interesting characters. It would be appropriate for almost any age.

Oct 23, 2013
  • Knitwit50 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

One of the best sci fi time travel books. Connie Willis is a master.

Mar 28, 2013
  • bwortman rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A wonderful science fiction novel, Willis creates two diverse and believable worlds full of well-rounded characters. The plot is well-paced starting off relatively slowly but building to a faster pace for the climax. Both halves of the narrative are equally engaging and the switches between Oxford and Kivrin in the past are divided so that I never once wished for it to switch sooner than it did. Fun if you enjoy science fiction, time travel, or just want a decent novel set in the Middle Ages.

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