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Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog...) Paperback – November 15, 2008
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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.
The narrator is amazingly gifted. He sounds as if he is every character, since each is distinct. (And there is yet another voice in which he reads the exposition.) Don't be put off if you are not an Anglophile or don't care for the Victorian period . . .that won't matter. (The light-heartedness and engaging writing is such a relief after the tedium of, say, *Moby Dick.*) As a testimony to the affection I've developed for the book and for this particular recording, I PURCHASED this version, although it (and many alternatives) is readily available for borrowing from my public library.
Knowing how much tastes vary, I am wary of urging others to try my own literary favorites. In this case, I must make an exception. Taste a chapter or two and you are likely to crave more--making this the potato chip of literature. It is much more nourishing, though. The reader or listener just feels good after time with the narrative, even if mildly sorrowful that the book comes to an end.