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Three Men In a Boat
This story was inspired by Jerome's honeymoon and based on himself and two real-life friends, George Wingrave, whom he'd met while a clerk, and Carl Hentschel, whom he'd met through the theatre. It was an instant success and cinched his reputation as a humourist.
A humorous account by Jerome of a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route, but the humorous elements took over to the point where the serious and somewhat sentimental passages seem a distraction to the comic novel. One of the most praised things about Three Men in a Boat is how undated it appears to modern readers - the jokes seem fresh and witty even today. The three men are based on Jerome himself (the narrator J.) and two real-life friends, George Wingrave (who went on to become a senior manager in Barclays Bank) and Carl Hentschel (the founder of a London printing business, called Harris in the book), with whom he often took boating trips. The dog, Montmorency, is entirely fictional, but "as Jerome admits, developed out of that area of inner consciousness which, in all Englishmen, contains an element of the dog." The trip is a typical boating holiday of the time in a Thames camping skiff. This is just after commercial boat traffic on the Upper Thames had died out, replaced by the 1880s craze for boating as a leisure activity. Because of the overwhelming success of Three Men in a Boat, Jerome later published a sequel, about a cycling tour in Germany, entitled Three Men on the Bummel.--Submitted by Anonymous
This is the fictional story of three London friends and a dog taking a leisurely boat trip up the River Thames, from Kingston-upon-Thames to Oxford. It is narrated by ‘J.’, whose companions are George (awarded no surname), William Samuel Harris and the dog, Montmorency. During a sociable evening in J.’s room, the three men convince themselves that they each have various illnesses. Their collective diagnosis is overwork, and they prescribe themselves a fortnight’s holiday. A stay in the country and a sea voyage are both ruled out, and they settle instead on a boating trip, travelling on the Thames by day and camping out in the hired boat at night. They set out the following Saturday. George must work in the City in the morning, and so arranges to join them later that day. The other two, accompanied by the dog and a mountain of luggage, get a cab to Waterloo station, but are unable to find the correct train to Kingston. Eventually they bribe the driver of another train to take them there instead, one of the many humorous set-pieces that make the book more than a straightforward travelogue. George completes the trio at Weybridge, with a dubious-looking parcel tucked under his arm, which turns out to be a banjo and instruction book. The story is a tapestry of incidents that occur, anecdotes on various topics (including the unreliability of weather forecasts), loosely connected digressions (such as J.'s uncle’s inability to hang pictures), and descriptive pieces on the places that they pass. It is in these descriptive pieces that the author’s original intention of writing a guidebook is most apparent. What he actually achieved was a classic of British humorous writing. Although the book was written over a century ago, it has an enduring, timeless quality.--Submitted by Rahul.
The book begins with the narrator, J and two of his friends, sitting at home tired of their dull lives. They need a break, not just to have fun, but to get rid of the chronic case of hypochondria that they seem to have! Eventually, they decide to go boating on the Thames. The three men (who are, incidentally, all terrible boatmen) pack their supplies and pile into a skiff, along with J.’s hurricane of a dog, Montmorency, and set off on the two-week long trip. Little do they know how disastrous it is going to be!! The book does have long travelogue-ish descriptions of the history, nature along the journey from Kingston to Oxford. They may be slightly boring for the non-nature and history-loving readers, but these descriptions too have that hint of sarcasm in them! Along the journey, the writer adds different amusing incidents and stories from his memories; without straying from the main plot. Not to mention, there are these little comical ‘blurbs’ at the beginning of every chapter, that give us a Cliff notes version of what happens next. This is a book that makes you ‘Laugh Out Loud’! I see that I have said nothing of the dog. According to the author, “Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are.” And Montmorency is truly a ‘terror’ in that respect – along the journey – he almost fights with a tom cat, also with a kettle (but unfortunately, loses) and in Oxford he gets into 25 fights! This delightfully whimsical book has a quintessentially British air to it. The book has perfectly captured the Victorian era and all its stereotypes! Today, ages later, the humour still doesn’t seem stale. To all the P.G Wodehouse and Terry Pratchett fans out there, and to anyone in search of a good laugh: this book is for you!!--Submitted by Ashis.
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