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 = *****