|Submitted by David Norman |
(Mar 08, 2007)
DOOMESDAY BOOK. by Connie Willis.
Kivrin is transported back in time. She is part of a bizarre group of scientists. The aim to gather information on a certain period of time in the Middle Ages. The project is almost successful. Kivrin finds herself surrounded by a bleak and harsh snow covered English landscape. The only problem being, there has been a slight miscalculation on the time element. Yes, she is in the Middle Ages, but several years forward of the selected year. She is about to witness the Black Death.
The part of the book that so impressed itself upon me, is the dynamic description offered by the author on the surroundings, that Kivrin finds herself in. I could sense the utter silence, the brightness of the stars, the bitter taste of the cold. The smoky interior of the house that she finds herself a guest in. The bleak day to day routine of the inhabitants. Their continual battle for survival against starvation, the elements, the constant fear of illness. Their lives, so much a part of the local Church.
I found the first part of the book, had a direct bearing on the actual time spent by Kivrin in the Middle Ages. During the first chapters, the characters are aware that it is Christmas, that there is a cold and flu epidemic, that the sound of the Church bells heralds the approach of Christmas.
These same concepts play a much more vital part during the part of the book, where Kivrin is actually living in the Middle Ages. Instead of colds and flu, there is ongoingthreat of the Plague. Where the Church is merely a backdrop during the first part of the book, it is here, when Kivrin is part of the Middle Ages, that it proves to be the centre of not just the local ihabitants, but also her own daily struggle for survival.Father Roche is assuming just as an important place in her life, as those of the local Villagers.
I have read DOOMESDAY BOOK twice. Even now, I can almost feel that I have myself been transported back into that place in history. Such is the skill displayed by the author with her considerable descriptive talents, that it has provided me with a lasting memory. Have I really been to that part and time, in history? I have only got to turn to a page, in this novel, and glance at the date - 1320 - and answer yes, while reading this book, I was there.