Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Doomsday Book

by Connie Willis

A historian by training, adventuress by nature. That describes Kivrin, the young woman whose dream is finally coming through as she is sent to study life in the year 1320. The middle ages is a time fraught with danger, especially for a woman alone. Kivrin shrugs this off as she prepares to be a part of something that she has dreamed of for years.

Nothing can go wrong. There are checks and cross checks and redundancies everywhere. The net has been used before and often. So often that Gilchrist, the arrogant, self serving unprepared and untrained man in temporary charge of the facility seems fine with foregoing some of the tests and checks.

Kivrin is all too willing to believe him, and to take the risk to live her dream. Nothing can go wrong.
She has made preparations down to the last detail of proper clothing, and language, She even made sure that her nails were worn and broken by volunteering at a local archeological dig before she leaves.

The archeological dig that was nearly the undoing of everyone for miles around.

Kivrin herself and Baldri the tech assisting at sending her to 1320 are both infected by a bacteria that has survived the tomb they helped to uncover.

Not only does Kiverin arrive at her destination infected, but something else has gone gravely wrong. People are dying in the time she left and the time where she is now living. Was it her? Did she bring this upon them?

I admit to an affinity for time travel stories. Who would not want to see what it was like when the Pyramids were being built? Who would turn down a chance to see a time before they were born, a simpler, happier time?

The characters in this story were realistic, complicated and human. People doing the best that they can to have the best that life can offer them. They lived and loved and worked together in communities 700 years apart, but not so different after all.

This is a story filled with dreams, with anguish and fear. But it is also a story of love and hope and strength. I was captivated by the characters and the tale. I couldn't put it down, until I finally learned how the story ended.


  1. I'm so glad you liked this one, Kath. I just remembered another one I liked a lot called Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman, by Ann Baer. Have you read that one? If not, if you ever get the chance, give it a read. It's historical fiction that I really enjoyed. Although I'll never really know for sure, the life depicted in Down the Common sounds like a pretty accurate portrayal of what it would have been like to live at that point in time.

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