Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Three Men in a Boat

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

Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks—not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.’s small fox-terrier Montmorency.
Three Men in a Boat was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian ‘clerking classes’, it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.

My Reaction:
(This was a shared re-read-aloud with Donald.)

This is either the second or the third time I've read Three Men in a Boat, but though I remembered thinking it was hilarious, I didn't recall any specific details of the "adventure".  This time around, I was surprised by the unevenness of the book.

Jerome K. Jerome (at least in my acquaintance with his works) has a tendency to go off on tangents.  Sometimes these tangents are highly amusing.  (It's amazing how consistent human nature is over the centuries!)  Other times, the tangent is poetic or historical or "travel-guide-esque" and of less interest to the casual reader-- and there's one section in particular that seems completely out of place with the rest of the book.  (It's not too far from the end, and I think you'll recognize it when you see it.)

Fortunately, in this instance, the amusing bits outweigh the dull paragraphs, so I can still recommend it-- and its sequel Three Men on the Bummel (which, as I recall, is not as good as TMiaB, but still an interesting read).  However, because of those dull passages that kept cropping up, I think I'll have to give this four-and-a-half out of five stars.