One sign of a good book is that you come to the last page and want to start all over again. Connie Willis’s Blackout and All Clear – which should really be read straight through as one – made me wish for leisurely hours in a hammock, where I could go back and savor every plot twist, every character and every word.
In 2060 Oxford, historians have figured out how to travel back in time, allowing them to conduct first-hand research on everything from St. Paul to the French Revolution. Blackout begins with three of these historians dropped into England during the Blitz: Michael is planning to take part in the Dunkirk evacuation, Merope is in a country house taking care of evacuee children, and Polly has a job in a London department store. Each has come equipped with background information (such as when and where bombs exploded) and enough money, clothes and background knowledge to blend in with the “contemps.” But their scheduled returns go awry, and all three find themselves stuck in the past.