Three Men in a Boat : and Three Men on the Bummel Paperback
Edited by Jeremy Lewis
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 proved so popular that Jerome reunited his now older - but not necessarily wiser - heroes in "Three Men on the Bummel", for a picaresque bicycle tour of Germany.
With their benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian 'clerking classes', both novels hilariously capture the spirit of their age.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 400 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 25/11/1999
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780140437508
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by nillacat
Charming and funny, with occasional lovely passages, some lovely in spite of themselves, since he seems to want to make fun of the romantic streak that is apt to come out in even the most pedestrian people when faced with a pretty vista. And if you are honest with yourself, you will admit the many foibles he pokes fun at in himself.
Review by JimBrewington
Someone said "possibly the funniest book ever written." It isn't. First published in 1886 - a classic. Tedious, old English humor, ironic.
Review by Smiler69
In this comic story about three friends on a boating trip up the Thames, Jerome K. Jerome, the narrator and one of the three men in question, weaves in countless anecdotes about his boatmates George and Harris and their various acquaintances, not to mention some very funny details about their misadventures. Apparently, the author had originally intended this book to be a serious travel guide, and while there are some descriptions of the sites and local history along the way, even these passages are usually told with with a good dose of irony, while in some places with quite a lot of lyricism. I found the narrator in this particular recording quite excellent. My only complaint is that I kept wondering why there was not more mention of the dog, and which of his two friends he kept referring to as 'Montmorency' until the very end when I realized they were of course one and the same. Silly me.
Review by figre
There are words that have fallen out of disfavor. They have taken on the feel of age or mustiness or a sense that what was once a compliment has now turned into something less. One such word is "whimsy". We may get by with occasionally calling something whimsical. But if we say that something has whimsy or is a piece of whimsy, there is a suggestion that we are being somewhat derogatory.There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word. It is a word intended to imply fun and playfulness with a hint of unpredictability. It is a word that speaks of a type of humor that does not take itself too seriously. It is not mean humor; it is humor that is just meant to be enjoyed.A perfectly good word and a word that is definitely complimentary.Upon completing the two books included in this collection, the first word that came to mind was whimsy. In Three Men and a Boat we follow J. and his two friends as they try their best to enjoy a voyage up the Thames. This journey is a story of the many things that go wrong. However, if that were all, then it would be farce and pratfalls. No, it becomes more (hilariously more) because Jerome is able to describe the foibles of the three in a way that is also enlightening about their characters. These are not ciphers just falling in the mud; these are flawed (funny) people falling in the mud.The second book, Three Men on the Bummel, follows the same three friends as they decide to take a bike ride through Germany. The same flaws, foibles, and falls harass the three in a different environment. But this is more than just the same story told in a different location. Jerome is able to bring a new perspective to these individuals while exploring a whole new geographic area. Time has changed the three. But within they are still as hapless as ever. In particular, the attempts to convince their wives (wives which did not exist in the first story) of the importance of the voyage are particular enlightening while being very funny.There is an extra nuance put to these tales because of the historical backdrop – a period that was not historical at the time of the writing. Travels up the Thames were all the rage at the time, but it was also a time that was seeing changes in the landscape and the population. This is evident in the story that is told, and part of the humor comes from those changes – changes that were not always welcome by everyone.Similarly, by the time Bummel was published, bicycles were all the rage and everyone was making similar trips. What becomes strange in this second tale is that we all know what is about to happen in Germany. In fact, changes were in the works, and the world was gearing for war (even if it didn't know it.) Some of the last paragraphs are hard to read because we know where some of this is going to lead.Thinking about it just a touch more, it is interesting that I chose the word whimsy when I am talking about books written in 1889 and 1900. An old word for some old books. And maybe the reason the word "whimsy" has fallen out of fashion is because this type of book has fallen out of fashion. If so, it is indeed a shame. I literally laughed out loud while reading some passages (as always, strange looks from fellow passengers on the plane) and spent most of the time smiling. That is not a bad thing. And if, because of it, I have to defend "whimsy", then so be it. I would suggest you try these books and see if you can't become a fan of whimsy yourself.
Review by norabelle414