Thursday, October 28, 2010

Books and yarn

We went down to Bennett Spring State Park for four days last week. I was delighted to have my first opportunity to go out of town with my Kindle, and I had a brand-new book to read--Connie Willis' "All Clear." "All Clear" is actually the second half of a book that was started in "Blackout," which was published earlier this year. I read "Blackout" when I was recovering from gallbladder surgery in March. "All Clear" isn't actually a sequel, it's actually the second half of the book. "Blackout" just stops, and "All Clear" just starts. It's as if Ms. Willis delivered a huge pile of pages, and the publisher divided them into relatively equal stacks and made each stack it's own book. I suppose "All Clear" could be read without having read the first part, but I wouldn't recommend it. Before I started it, I decided to go back and buy "Blackout" (I had read it as a library book) so I could read the last chapter or so before I started the new one.

The two books are set in Willis' time travel universe, the same one as "To Say Nothing of the Dog," that is, it is set both in 2060, and in the 1940's, i.e., World War II.

In this newest installment, three Oxford historians have traveled back in time to observe certain events of World War II in Europe--one to the Blitz, one to research heroism, and one to witness the evacuation of children. Their visits to London were supposed to be short-lived, but something happens, and none of them are able to get back home. There are supposed to be "drops" that open, doors back to their starting places, but they can't find the drops, and when they do find them, they won't open. All three begin to wonder if they may have affected history by their actions, and whether by doing so, they've marooned themselves in history forever.

I love Willis' writing, and I loved these books. They focused mostly on good, compassionate people, people who were brave and noble, and who thought of other people before themselves. I don't, as a rule, read historical fiction, but these are the exception, I suppose because the main protagonists are actually modern day people trying to fit in in a historical setting.

"Doomsday Book" is also one of the time travel novels, but this time the destination is (accidentally) Europe during the Black Plague. I would never have thought I'd enjoy this novel, but it's one of my favorites.

The picture above is of my "spot" while I was sitting on the bank of the river while Bob fished. My bag contained the Kindle, my knitting (you can see the scarf I was working on peeking out of the bag), my iPhone, my camera, a notebook and pen, and a knitting magazine. Oh, and hand cream and sunglasses -- all of the small things that are vital to me and that make my life happy. If I can just have a few books and some yarn, my life is pretty much complete. Well, and Bob, of course. That goes without saying.

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Jennifer Stumpf said...

Sounds like interesting reading. I'm headed to next to look them up. Thanks for the tip. I find it difficult to read fiction for the most part...

Joanna said...

The books sound very interesting and your reading spot looks just about perfect!