It's fantasy...or at least involves lots of time travel. Ned Henry, a historian, has been forced into duty for Lady Schrapnell, a wealthy American who is rebuilding a demolished cathedral. Lady S. has been sending historians and all other sorts of people back into time looking for "the bishop's bird stump," which you eventually find out is just a statute/vase.
The action, in my opinion, is a bit slow and confusing at first. I almost quit reading it, but I stuck it out and am glad I did. This is silly, but Ned was exhausted in the first 150 pages or so--all he wanted to do was sleep and I felt so bad for him. He'd go to bed, have an awful night's sleep and still be "time-lagged" (from all that time traveling). If he had been more rested, I could've enjoyed it more. Yes, I'm ridiculous.
After a beautiful historian named Verity accidentially puts their whole universe into jeopardy, Ned and Verity travel to Victorian England to set things aright. They try and try but eventually learn that life is self-correcting. The plot is clever, twisting and definitely gets better as you go on.
The secondary characters are excellent and make the plot. All of them play a vital role, too, which is nice. There's a bit of mystery, history, romance and humor. It's definitely a comedy of manners, so don't expect rip-roaring laughter.
The title (and maybe the book?) is partially a play on Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat. I have never read the book, so I'm not sure....anyone else know?