24 September 2008

Review: Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), by Jerome K. Jerome

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)
ISBN-13: 9780486451107
Challenge: Fall into Reading
Rating: B-

Links to Other Reviews
Word Lily


SmilingSally 9/24/08, 10:14 AM  

Whew! I'm glad you said it was short and that you skimmed part of it because when I saw you already had a review, I was thoroughly intimidated!

Beth F 9/24/08, 10:18 AM  

I didn't want to scare anyone off! The other books are "normal" length or long, so you will have plenty of time to catch up!

A 9/24/08, 4:54 PM  

Thanks for the review. I have that book on my list for this challenge. I had already started it a few months ago but then left it midway and forgot all about it. Just remembered today when I was compiling the list of half-read books.

A 9/25/08, 9:30 PM  

I am bit of a slow reader, so it will be some time before I get to writing reviews, but will let you know when I finally get down to it. I will follow your blog too to keep up with your reviews

Steve and Eden 9/26/08, 4:45 PM  

This sounds like an interesting book. I'm adding it to my list of books to read in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!

Kayren 10/18/08, 10:00 AM  

I'm just now getting around to reading some reviews. This sounds cute, and I do like silly sometimes. It's definitely worth putting on my future list to see if the library has it. Thanks for the review.

Unknown 3/1/09, 5:12 PM  

I've just finished this, and I can see why you weren't very impressed. It is all just a bit too silly.

I loved the descriptions of places I know very well, but can't see the attraction if you're not familiar with the River Thames.

Anonymous,  4/6/09, 9:59 AM  

It is really silly. The slapstick stuff is probably what I didn't enjoy as much. I enjoyed the stories told from the past so much better than most of the tales from the trip itself. In general, though, how clueless these boys were about cooking (when they acted like they knew what they were doing) was funny to me.

I also think this was just a good time for me to read it. I picked it up because I didn't want to think, I needed that kind of a break.

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