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Three Men in a Boat: (To Say Nothing of the Dog) Paperback – June 16, 2006
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Starred Review. Jerome's classic British comedy is recounted by House's Hugh Laurie in a marvelously entertaining performance that will bring listeners to the banks of the Thames and carry them away into a world where three men and a dog named Montmorency venture from London to Oxford one sunny day. At just two and a half hours, the journey is short but sweet as Laurie captures the essence of Jerome's touching tale. With his classic witty tone, Laurie dives headfirst into each character, offering his own take on each colorful personality. There is a subtle theatrical aspect at work here as Laurie delivers a knockout one-man show that displays his wide-ranging talent. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
"Wonderfully fresh and funny, and among examples of Victorian humor I would place it high in the pantheon, right up there with The Importance of Being Earnest and The Diary of a Nobody . . . triumphantly stands the test of time, with its comic flights of exaggeration, its occasional archness, and its entirely innocent hint of the camp." Daily Telegraph
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The author acquired his odd name from his father, who changed his own name from Jerome Clapp to Jerome Clapp Jerome and named his son after himself. At some stage the son changed his middle name to Klapa. The family was impoverished after the father's early death and the son received little education. At various times he worked for the railroad, as an actor, as a school teacher, and as a law clerk. He started writing humorous essays in the early 1880's and had several books of collected essays published. He hit the jackpot when he wrote THREE MEN IN A BOAT which (oddly enough) was actually based on his honeymoon on a small boat on the Thames River.
Either Mrs. Jerome didn't care to be featured in a book or her husband figured that he could get more comic situations out of a stag party. Whatever the reason, the characters are the narrator, his friends Harris and George, and Montmorency - a fox terrier who thinks he's a Great Dane. The three young men are all suffering from a variety of imaginary ailments (Montmorency is in fine fettle) and decide that they will spend their holidays sailing up the Thames.
It's difficult to say why the book is so entertaining, except that the humor is sly and yet very realistic. Although styles in clothing, food, and camping gear have changed dramatically, three guys setting out on such a trip today would have pretty much the same mix-ups, snafus, and snits as this trio. Human nature hasn't changed. This book was such a hit that the leisure activity of boating on the Thames became wildly popular and has been so ever since. Today, England has restored many of the canals that moved goods in past centuries and boating trips and even living permanently on boats is a huge industry. This author was never able to replicate his success in his later books, but he definitely left his mark. If you haven't read this one, you should.
About halfway through the book there is a beautiful thought expressed by the writer, seemingly out of context with the humorous story, arising more or less on its own. It reveals a sublime depth in the writer I would not otherwise have known: "... And we know that Pain and Sorrow are but the angels of God. Only those who have worn the crown of suffering can look upon that wondrous light; and they, when they return, may not speak of it, or tell the mystery they know" (pp 1393--97 of Kindle story).
It begins with 3 friends talking over their respective health problems and aches and pains. They come to the conclusion that they are suffering from overwork and decide to have an adventure - or misadventure as the case may be. Then the fun starts as we follow these 3 guys and their dog on a boat tour of the Thames. There is plenty of introspection, retrospection and just plain one-sided commentary on the events of the tour and life in general. By the time it is over, the stalwart souls who started this pilgrimage are truly in need of a rest! It is so funny that I was cracking up throughout the entire book!
It could be (loosely) used as a tour guide book if you really wanted to re-creat this trip because the descriptions of the trip and all the stops along the way are pretty detailed and if you really wanted to, you could follow in their footsteps. As for me, I was content to live this vicariously and immagine that I was along for the ride!
It isn't "Great Literature", but it is "Great Fun", easy read and something to make you forget your own troubles for awhile!
And then, from time to time, it waxes philosophical, and gives you viewpoints that you'll carry for the rest of your life.
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(I love travelogues in which everything goes horribly wrong.Read more