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===SECOND BOOK IN SERIES - YOU NEED TO HAVE READ 'BLACKOUT' BEFORE READING 'ALL CLEAR'===
===Why I Bought This===
Being at home ill I always like to keep myself occupied, and being surrounded by tall trees means that during the summer months I cannot get a TV signal in the bedroom, so I signed up with Audible online where you can download books. I purposely looked for ones that were unabridged and quite long. As I had enjoyed Connie Wilis' Doomsday Book which I had read in paperback I decided to go for more time-travel books.
Blackout was the first in a pair of books that Connie wrote about time travel from 2060 back to the Second World War. The second and final book in the series is this one called All Clear.
This book was available for download from the Audible website.
Audible is a sister website to Amazon and for £7.99 (plus the first month being free) I was able to pick one book to download a month.
Currently if you join you will get the first three months for £3.99 each.
There are various formats that you can download the book in but I just wanted to download it and listen on my laptop in bed.
Luckily it was a very easy process - I had feared I would have to get my son to help me do it but if I can manage it anyone can. When you first begin you download the Audible Manager to your computer and then once you pick a title from their website it goes into your basket to purchase with your monthly credit and then you can download it whenever you wish - the book came in three sections to make downloading easier and did not take very long to download at all - I was not timing it but 10-15 minutes at the longest I would say.
When listening you can click to 'bookmark' when you want a break and then turn your machine off and go back to the same place whenever you wish.
===What Is Audible?===
Audible.co.uk, an Amazon company, is the UK's largest provider of digital audiobooks available for download.
Audible has more than 60,000 titles and thee are being added to constantly.
All Clear by Connie WIllis.
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren
23 hrs and 46 minutes.
Audible release date 19/10/2010
Publisher Audible Frontiers
From the Audible website:
'In Blackout, award-winning author Connie Willis returned to the time-travelling future of 2060, the setting for several of her most celebrated works, and sent three Oxford historians to World War II England: Michael Davies, intent on observing heroism during the Miracle of Dunkirk; Merope Ward, studying children evacuated from London; and Polly Churchill, posing as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz. But when the three become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler's bombers attempt to pummel London into submission.
Now the situation has grown even more dire. Small discrepancies in the historical record seem to indicate that one or all of them have somehow affected the past, changing the outcome of the war. The belief that the past can be observed but never altered has always been a core belief of time-travel theory, but suddenly it seems that the theory is horribly, tragically wrong.
Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians' supervisor, Mr. Dunworthy, and 17-year-old Colin Templer, who nurses a powerful crush on Polly, are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle of their own - to find three missing needles in the haystack of history.
Told with compassion, humour, and an artistry both uplifting and devastating, All Clear is more than just the triumphant culmination of the adventure that began with Blackout. It's Connie Willis' most humane, heartfelt novel yet - a clear-eyed celebration of faith, love, and the quiet, ordinary acts of heroism and sacrifice too often overlooked by history.'
£7.99 a month on Audible.
The paperback can be bought on Amazon for £5.49 plus free postage.
Paperback: 800 pages
Publisher: Gollancz (12 July 2012)
As the synopsis above from the Audible website states - this is a story of Time Travel.
In the vein of Doomsday Book which is another of Connie WIllis' books, historians from the future are able to travel back to events in the past to view at first hand history as it is happening.
They travel by means of the 'Net' which opens at 'Drops'. This process is never fully explained but the historian would step into the 'Net' which is a shimmering light and be instantly (or almost instantly) transported back to a certain pre-determined time in history. This shimmering Net would only be visible and 'open' in one place (the Drop) and only at certain times as decided by the controllers back in the present day - which in these stories is 2060 Oxford.
As described, the first book Blackout and this second volume All Clear are both set in World War Two and involves three historical travellers - Michael Davies, Merope Ward and Polly Churchill.
I stumbled across Connie Willis by accident when I found one of her other Time Travel books - The Doomsday Book. I purchased that and read it and found it thoroughly enjoyable so decided to search out her other works.
Blackout and All Clear are two books along the same lines as Doomsday book, but this time set in World War Two and not in the Black Death.
I signed up to Audible as I cannot get TV receptoin in the summer and spending some time in bed it is good to have someting different to pass the time, and having unabridged versions of the books I thought would be more relaxing than bothering to read them myself.
I had read a few reviews on the Audible site before purchasing this book and must admit I agree with some points but wanted to hear it anyway to find out what happens to everyone in the story.
The narrator has an American accent and her pronouciation of certain words is odd to say the least and does grate a little. However I decided to look past that and just enjoy it. One reviewer mentioned that some details relating to routes around London are inaccurate, so if you know London well this might irritate you - but personally I did not realsie there was a problem.
Overall I would say I did enjoy it. At almost 24 hours it was a bit drawn out and I am sure the two books could have been condensed considerably without losing any of its actual content and possibly even written as just one volume.
I will not tell you what happens - but it does involve time travel to different places and periods in the war. Two individuals travel to two different times using two different aliases, but they are not allowed to meet themsleves. With so many stories going on at one time you have to concentrate - but not in a bad way.
To me the historical realities of war - rationing, the Blitz, air-raid shelters, trying to find nylon stockings and lipstick etc, seen to be well researched and are quite interesting in themselves.
Our three historians are all in World War Two and all have trouble with their 'Drops', and the story revolves around their separate roles - one is with evacuees, one is working in an Oxford Street Store and another is involved with Dunkirk.
In the first book Blackout the three historians were on their own with independant stories and had just met up towards the end of the book. However here in All Clear they are more together and trying to find ways back to their own time of 2060.
You do get a feel for the suffering that took place during the war, casualties being killed, the bombing and fires - how the characters had to rely on charity to get warm coats and one, 'Eileen' even ended up with a bright green one!
Of course more happens than that and they have trials and tribulations to face along the way.
I would say that I also enjoyed this second book - the only problems really being that it is a little drawn out - you hear the individuals rambling on about could this be the problem with their Drop or is it something else or have they affected history when they were supposed to be unable to alter events etc etc over and over again. Their thought processes are articulated and sometimes it does keep covering the same ground.
There is also a death and separation and worry that Polly will not be able to get away before she meets herself in the future - which would result in her death as you cannot be in the same time as yourself.
In places it was a little 'slow' and possibly if I had been reading the actual book myself I would have glanced over and possibly skipped quite a few pages, but being on audio you cannot do that.
However I did enjoy the story and the conclusion. I was wondering if, after listening to so many hours the whole thing would be spoilt by a weak ending, but it was quite full of suspense right up to the end. One twist in the final few moments seemed a tiny bit odd to me - not in a major way though - and I think this is what another reviewer thought as they too wondered about one connection - but thought they may have missed the clue earlier in the story -as perhaps had I - or perhaps there was not one. This does not detract from the ending which is good enough to have made listening to the story worthwhile.
I am off to order another Connie WIllis story now!
===Warning - Only Half a Story===
The other thing I would warn anyone is that this is not exactly a whole book - but only part 2. In effect the whole story is only revealed if you have first read Blackout. Personally I think this seems a very strange way of doing things, and this is not just that the second book is a continuation of the story that you may or may not want to read - but the first just finishes really abruptly - so if you do not buy this second book you will never know what happens to them - so one without the other is a waste of time as if you just read this one you would wonder what on earth was going on - as it presupposes you have already read Blackout.
===Would I Recommend?===