Friday, April 26, 2024

Literary Sewing Circle: Book Talk!


Today's the day for some beginning book talk! How are you doing with the book? Have you started it yet? Finished it? Finding it long or easy to get through? Do you have any reactions you'd like to share? 

Here are a few questions to ponder today and for the next while -- whether you have begun reading, or you've only read blurbs & author interviews so far and still have something to say, join in! Although there might be a few spoilers in the questions and discussion below so if you haven't got too far yet you might want to come back to this post.

I'll add some of my own thoughts and you can reply to them or add your own impressions. If you want to hear other takes on a part of the book that you are curious about, leave your own questions in the comments, too.

1. If you decided to pick up this book and read it for this round, why? Are you familiar with Connie Willis, or did the book just sound interesting on its own?

I hope that this was appealing enough to pick up despite its length, for those readers unfamiliar with Connie Willis. I always enjoy her madcap writing; she is often influenced by comedy and old movies, and that sense of manic incident is on show here. I think the combo of futuristic tech and the Victorian era is a bit irresistible, for me anyhow!

2. What do you think of the book's concept? Are you a fan of time travel stories or not?

I enjoy time travel stories, with the main characters moving through time rather than just a dual timeline. I also know that Willis always entertains me, so have read this book a few times now. The way that she's set up the concept, so that nobody except academics are interested in time travel in the 2057 era makes it doubly funny to see all these history nerds able to live the dream and access the times that they study -- without any corporate interference! 

3. Have you read Jerome K. Jerome's original Victorian "Three Men in a Boat: to Say Nothing of the Dog" which partially inspired this book? If so, how do you see the connections so far? 

When I first read this, I put it off until I'd read Three Men in a Boat first. Reading them on subsequent weekends meant that the connections were fresh in my mind, and so I did get quite a few laughs from it. I particularly love that the Three Men in a Boat have a small cameo in this one; I picture the fallout from this and am amused again. Definitely worth reading both if this kind of quirky humour appeals to you. 

4. Is there a particular character that you've enjoyed so far? Any particular themes that stand out for you?

Ned is a decent narrator, but I really enjoy the way the entire large cast works together. From the contemporary lab techs (and Lady Schrapnell!) to the Victorian circle Ned becomes acquainted with, I enjoy the interactions of the group in each setting. I also love that they are all rushing around trying to fix something without being quite sure what they are supposed to be fixing. And the Victorian jumble sales are a treat. 

5. If you were a time travelling historian, would you prefer the WWII assignments, or the Victorian ones? What would you do first in the era you chose? 

Not sure which would be more interesting but the Victorian era would be safer, generally speaking. I would most likely end up in a bookstore looking for a (now) rare volume, or at a haberdashery looking at fabric! Or at a jumble sale, of course, looking for antique penwipers ;)

6.  Is there anything specific  in the book that has sparked an idea for a project yet? Are you mulling over any ideas?

I have many ideas, thanks to the plethora of names, places, descriptions of clothing and landscapes, multiple eras of clothing options, and specific thematic threads that run through the story (more on those in the next inspiration post). I have one or two thoughts about a likely project but I'm still deciding...I have a lot of stash to choose from and a couple of pattern ideas are rising to the top. I might go very literal with some names, or more vaguely thematic. Or a mix of both! 

Has anything leapt to the top of your project list in your initial reading? Let us know if so! If not, let it percolate, and check out next week's inspo post for more ideas. 


  1. I was able to get an e-copy from my library, but I'm not finding this one easy to get interested in. I think I"ll probably have to wait for the next sew-along. Can't wait to see what others come up with.

    1. Sometimes you are just not in the right mood for a book, so try again next round! I'm glad you gave it a go though.


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!