Connie Willis is a very imaginative writer. I love the time travel genre, and this story is one of the better ones that I have read. However, at almost 600 pages, this book is way too long. The pace is so slow and repetitive that I believe that the first 400 pages could have been condensed into about a quarter of that length.
All the way through, Finch, who is the secretary of one of the main characters, Dunworthy, complains about the lack of “lavatory paper.” All he needed to do was by a few copies of Doomsday Book, ripped out the first two-thirds, and he would’ve had a surplus!
I hold the editor responsible for my tedium, as the author presented that editor with a great story and received no good guidance in return. The proof reader is also culpable of serious crime: there are numerous typos and incorrect vocabulary usage. Worse than that, there are so many punctuation errors that, if Lynne Truss were to read this story, she would be pulling her hair out by the time she were half way through.
Once the pace picked up, just past page 400, I was captivated and read through to the end quite quickly.
What puzzled me immensely, and many other readers too, is that although Kivrin, the historian who travelled back in time to the Middle Ages, had brilliant technology in the form of implants which automatically translated her speech into Old English and allowed her to record her journal by speaking into her hands as if praying, she was not equipped with the most essential, available piece of technology. (view spoiler). I suppose that it would have taken away half of the story, had she been so equipped.
All in all, this is a really good time travel story, but the book could have been less than 300 pages long, have been better edited, and should certainly have been scrutinized by a proficient proof-reader.
I would only recommend it to friends who love a good time travel book and have the stamina to keep reading to the end of a marathon.