Review of Fire Watch by Connie Willis

18586183Wow. What an excellent story. Written in diary form, this tale is of a student historian who travels from his time (somewhen in the 21st century, I believe) to 1940s London, St Paul’s specifically, during the Blitz. The task seems to be pretty much to survive for three months until he is recalled to return to the future.

What I really appreciated about this story is its message. What a contrast to ‘Vintage Season’, which had people from the future travelling to the ‘present’ for entertainment and pure, disinterested observation. Even going so far as to pretty much demean and negate the concerns of the locals. Here we have someone from the future who really cares about the people around him, about the integrity of St Paul’s. He befriends people, buries a cat, and gets really mad with his professor when he returns to the future and gets quizzed on a string of facts.

By travelling to the past he learns that history isn’t just about facts and figures, but real lives. Lives and issues that mattered back then. Something we all, living today, could do well to remember. The past is always more complex than just facts and figures. The past is the people, and the people lived in their time with their own perspectives on life. It behoves us to remember that when we view the past, that we cannot place OUR perspectives on life onto those who lived in the past.

5/5 rating

My fellow time travelling readers are:

Timothy C. Ward (on hiatus)
H.M. Jones
DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

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About Laurel C Kriegler

A born and bred South African, I was educated at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where I graduated with an Honours Degree (post-graduate) in Economics at the end of 2001. After spending several years gaining work experience in the UK, I returned to South Africa to get married. It was during the ensuing period that my pursuits of writing and editing took hold.
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6 Responses to Review of Fire Watch by Connie Willis

  1. I loved the message of the story; incredibly powerful. My jaw almost hit the ground when he took his first test and saw the question they were asking. I was like, no way! XD

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    • Agreed. Those questions were a real smack in the face, eh? I wasn’t surprised he got mad, lol! But I was relieved to learn that that was the whole point – that historians cannot think in terms of facts and figures. But seriously, can you imagine being on fire watch during the Blitz? Can you? Nerve-wracking!!!

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  2. aleshaescobar says:

    Excellent review! Hmm, now I’m rethinking whether or not I would’ve enjoyed it. I heard the beginning is a little rough, but it seems things become more engaging afterward. One of the interesting things about time travel is the idea of being able to learn from the past/future/other timeline and somehow bring what we learn back to our own.

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    • It is a long story. And quite detailed. But within that detail one gets to feel as the character does – a sense of duty to protect the cathedral, and an interest in the people there. It’s a worthwhile read.

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  3. Hannah Jones says:

    You made me determined to give it another go. My health makes me unreliable, at this point, and I do think I will like it when I’m doing well. Thanks, Laurel, for your great review.

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