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Last week, Sim continued her virtual walking tour of the London Underground with visits to Syon House and the Thames River Walk.
Book: Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis
Genre: An interesting blend of science fiction and historical fiction
Publisher: Spectra Ballantine Books
Publication date: 2010
Pages: 491 and 641
Source: Library e-books
Summary: Blackout and All Clear were published as two novels, but they’re really one fabulous 1100-page story. Time-traveling historians visit the parts of World War II that we’re nostalgic about, only to discover that the romance of it all is far outweighed by terror and tedium.
Thoughts: I loved this visit to my favorite World War II sites and stories:
- The English countryside where London evacuated its children
- Dunkirk for the evacuation of Allied soldiers by a flotilla of fishing boats and pleasure crafts
- Bletchley Park and its code-breakers
- South England where an entire fake army looked set to invade at Calais on D-Day
- London during the Blitz and the V1 and V2 attacks and for the celebration of VE Day in Trafalgar Square
The time travel adds an extra dimension. It’s like having a companion for reading historical fiction, one who knows just a bit more about the history than I do and can remind me at the right moment what’s going on and what to worry about next.
Appeal: I suggest reading Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog first. They are set in the same futuristic world of Oxford historians with access to time travel. If you like those Connie Willis novels, you’ll know that Blackout and All Clear are worth the investment of your time.
I read these as e-books but I think it might be worth seeking out the print. There are a lot of sub-plots to keep track of and it would have been easier if I could flip back through to see where things were. Fortunately, it all pulls together in the end so I just let a little confusion here and there roll away.
Challenges: Here are two more books to add to my 2015 Chunkster Challenge list — I originally pledged four and now, I’m up to six.
Reviews: Like Alex of The Children’s War, I wished this story could have kept going, which is rather shocking when it’s 1100+ pages long already. It’s a world I could have stayed in, like binge-watching a TV series. Alex’s review has a much more complete summary than mine.
Have you read this book? What did you think?