15 September 2011

Review: Three Men in a Boat | Jerome K. Jerome

Published in 1889, Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome is a Penguin Classic, and a book I've been wanting to read for quite some time now.  It's a slim read at only 185 pages but it's an absolute hoot to read and I completely fell in love with it.

Essentially it's the story of three men and their trip up the river Thames in a boat.  We meet them early on complaining about their health, and J, the narrator, claims to have all of the ailments in a medical reference book with the exception of housemaid's knee.  When they decide to take a boat trip to escape their troubles, I began to wonder how they'd cope, but that's just when the fun begins.

I was laughing and chuckling on almost every page, and this book was just such a joy to read, I found myself wanting to read it aloud to anyone who would listen (mostly my husband).  Here's an excerpt from page 36:

"Now, I'm not like that.  I can't sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do.  It is my energetic nature. I can't help it."

Another of my favourite sections in the book happens when the narrator J accidentally falls into the river, after the others turn down the idea of going for a swim, on page 102:

  'By Jove ! old J.'s gone in,' I heard Harris say, as I came blowing to the surface. 'I didn't think he'd have the pluck to do it. Did you?'
  'Is it all right?' sang out George.
  'Lovely,' I spluttered back.  'You are duffers not to come in.  I wouldn't have missed this for worlds.  Why don't you try it?  It only wants a little determination.'

I haven't laughed so much since reading A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, which is one of my favourite books of all time.  I wouldn't say Three Men in a Boat is good enough to join my all time favourites, however it was a quick read and very enjoyable.  The snippets above are indicative of the style of humour, so if you enjoyed those, then you'll enjoy the book.  I couldn't recommend it more highly.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!