When 3 men, and Montmorency the dog, take a 2 week boating holiday on the Thames, the result is misadventure, bribery, and lots of rain and confusion. Intended as a serious travel guide, it was somehow hijacked by comedy. Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat is one of the funniest books I know. I hope you’ll laugh over it with me.
Come with me on a fabulous reading journey through 2020. Together we will explore a thought-provoking selection of 19th and 20th Century classics. For each novel you will receive an illustrated monograph packed full of intriguing stories about the author behind the book, explaining its themes, tempting you with film versions to watch, and challenging you with discussion questions.
I love to share my passion for great literature. Please consider joining me in this literary exploration.
Have you ever struggled to put up a tent (or perhaps assemble a piece of IKEA furniture)? Have you ever packed a suitcase only to wonder if you really have put in a toothbrush and been forced to take everything out so as to check? Have you ever had a guide desperate to show you something you don’t actually want to see? And have you googled a list of medical symptoms only to discover you are afflicted with many deadly diseases (in fact, discover you have almost all of them except Housemaid’s Knee)? If so, then Three Men in a Boat is the book for you.
Jerome K. Jerome struggled all his life to live up to his literary hero, Charles Dickens, and never succeeded. Yet he wrote one of the funniest and best-loved books in the English language. Anyone who travels along the Thames in a boat should find it hard not to think of him and his wonderful novel that spawned a mini tourist industry on that great river.
“What readers ask nowadays in a book is that it should improve, instruct and elevate. This book wouldn’t elevate a cow. I cannot conscientiously recommend it for any useful purposes whatever. All I can suggest is that when you get tired of reading “the best hundred books,” you may take this for half an hour. It will be a change.”
– Jerome K. Jerome
Jerome had always loved boating, and had spent wonderful afternoons on the Thames “messing about in boats”. He set out to write a serious book that would be a useful guide to the Thames, but soon humour took over.
The book appeared in 1889 and the first edition had sixty illustrations by A. Frederics. It has never been out of print; it has been translated into every major language in the world (and even into Pitman’s Shorthand); it has delighted generations of readers. The Guardian ranked Three Men in a Boat at number 25 in its ‘100 Best Novels of all Time’ list in 2014, while The Telegraph included it in its ’15 Funniest Books Ever Written’ list.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do – that you revel in its comedy, sigh over its hopeless young men, picture that wonderful river scenery that conjures up so much English history, laugh over its eccentricities, and of course never forget that dog, one of the best dogs in literature.
“I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can’t help it.”
― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat
This Literary Readers’ Guide is a real treat! In it I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. Included are 8 thought-provoking discussion points, perfect for books clubs or just to get you thinking a bit harder yourself.
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