This short book was written in the late 1800s and tells the tale of three men and a dog who take a boating trip up the Thames. It was supposed to be a relaxing vacation meant to cure the men of their self-diagnosed ailments. Unfortunately, the voyage becomes a series of misadventures, usually with hysterical results.
I read this book in preparation for reading Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog. The dog in Three Men in a Boat is Montmorency, a fox terrier who accompanies the incompetent men on their trip. My understanding is that the Willis book is a take off on Jerome's.
Jerome's book is full of slap-stick humor as we follow the three Victorian bunglers up the river. Generally, they face a problem, such as not having a can opener, that then needs to be solved. In this case, the men try to open the can by hitting it with everything from a rock to the ship's mast. Along the way, the men get in and out trouble, meet numerous zany characters, learn to play the banjo, sing songs, and tell tales of young women.
I did find the book to be funny, but about three quarters of the way through, my mind began to wander and I started skimming along to the end. It is a charming tale, but the constant humor was a bit wearing. If I were more of a fan of slap-stick, I think I would have liked this book better. Nonetheless, I do recommend it--especially for those of you who go for the excessively silly (which is not a bad thing!).
Note to others in the Fall into Reading challenge: Yes, I did finish the first book already, but it is less than 150 pages long! Katrina has set up a blog post to gather all the reviews from this challenge; be sure to check it out here.
Published by Dover, 2006 (originally 1889)
Challenge: Fall into Reading
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