Saturday, August 20, 2011

Three Men in a Boat

Three Men in a Boat: (To Say Nothing of the Dog) (Dover Value Editions)Three Men in a Boat – Jerome K. Jerome
Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG (Mild Violence, Boating, Incompetence)

“I had walked into that reading-room a happy, healthy man.  I crawled out a decrepit wreck.”

“Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.”

Why: This novel is classic comedic gold! Given, we’re most likely still basking in the afterglow, but it’s been awhile since uncontrollable laughter spewed forth from our (Evan's) vocal cords during a read.    

After self diagnosing himself to have every notable medical calamity (other than housemaid’s knee) the narrator received strict orders from his doctor to relax and get some fresh air.  It is soon decided that a boat trip down the Thames River is in order.  Joined by his two closest friends and dog, the narrator sets out at once.  Whether or not the trio actually experience a state of relaxation on their vacation is debatable, however the hilarity of their misadventures is not.    

Never would we agree to spend any vacation time with the characters from Three Men in a Boat; however reading about them while on vacation would be quite enjoyable.  The narrator’s dry and oblivious manner of capturing the comedic elements within a series of events was masterful.  A random incident would suddenly trigger a memory or rant that could go off in any direction.  At one point we were reading about how tow-lines have a tendency to self tangle and then several chapters later we learned how inconsiderate Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were for making out all over England.  Honestly, the humor is comparable to the genius of P.G. Wodehouse and we can only imagine what would happen if Bertie Wooster was thrown into the mix. 

Our only criticism was that the flow was a bit unbalanced (much like the characters) at times.  A humorous account of three men trying to construct a canvas above their boat might happen to follow a more somber and detailed account of Magna Carta Island.  Otherwise, Three Men in a Boat was some of the funniest classical literature we’ve come across.  Anytime a novel can solicit laughter on multiple occasions it gets the privilege, nay, honor of receiving our stamp of approval.   

Editors Note: Contrary to what the above highlighted quote might have you believe; we love our mother-in-laws!!!


  1. I've not heard of this one. Sounds good. Great review -- thanks!

  2. I love books that can make me laugh- I am adding this to my TBR list. Thanks for the review.

  3. I've got to read this one. It seems so funny

  4. Gosh this one was so funny! Three Men in a Bummel, the sequel to this one, is really funny too.
    I just finished reading Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, and while it does have humor in it, it is surprisingly insightful and intense. Wouldn't expect that from a humorist.