Connie Willis

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at
Tue Jan 11 16:02:28 EST 2000

There were enough different things I wanted to comment on that I thought I
would simply send separate emails.  I know that increases the list volume,
but I would rather read a few short messages on separate topics than wade
through one long one.  And you can delete the ones you're not interested in.

>Connie Willis, DOOMSDAY BOOK - Melissa, Jenwa; BELLWETHER
>---Tarja: A very good depiction of the time of the Black Death.
>---Sarah:This was a very sad but realistic view into the past.  
>---Hallie: Haven't found this yet.  Melissa choosing it makes me nervous
>(all those tragedies you love!).  Is it devastating?

Hehehe.  I'm just a tragic figure, huh.  It is devastating because it is all
too plausible a story.  If I were going to sum it up, I would say this is a
book about reconciled misconceptions.  The heroine is an historian in a
future (2059) when time travel is possible, but is only used in a scholarly
context (early attempts to steal from the past having proven impossible; the
"sequel" _To Say Nothing of the Dog_ addresses this issue).  She's always
wanted to travel to the Middle Ages and has spent every moment since she
entered college preparing for the trip--learning Latin and Middle English,
necessary skills, everything she can.  But when she gets back there, her
translator doesn't work--it turns out that what scholars believed about
pronunciation and inflection is totally wrong.  And this is just the
beginning.  You go through the entire book trying to determine which of the
things you believe to be true actually are true.

_Doomsday Book_ is painful to read because Willis lets you fall in love with
people, utterly, and then they suffer and die.  A lot of them.  But the
suffering is all justified.  I honestly don't like tragedy much; what I like
is the sense of a story that is justified by its ending, and vice versa.
This is one of those books.  (Given the extraordinary flu season we seem to
be having worldwide, this is either the perfect time or the worst time to
read _Doomsday Book_.)

Melissa Proffitt
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