Thursday, June 5, 2008

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

Title: Three Men in a Boat
Author: Jerome K Jerome
First Published: 1889
Pages: 222
Genre: Humour

I took along this book to read while travelling. It is a re-read for me after some years. After 17 years, I think. When it was written in 1889, it was a huge success. It sold more than a million copies in 'pirated' editions in America alone. Jerome was a persistent and enthusiastic traveller. Although he was a struggling clerk in a solicitor's office, he discovered the joys of continental travelling. He became very famous after the publication of this book, which helped him in becoming a full time writer.

Three men in a Boat is about Jerome, Harris and George and their dog, Montmorency. The three are bored with their life and need a break to dispel it. So they plan a holiday together. After much discussion, they agree on travelling from Kingston to Oxford on Thames river. A boating holiday was rare in those days.

It was intended as a travel guide with humorous anecdotes. However, the comic portions took over. It became a delightful read with the idiosyncrasies of the travellers along with their dog. The friends are very much real. However, the dog is a fictional character.

The interactions between the friends is interesting. The narrater at times goes off in a tangent taking us along with him. His insights are wonderful, albeit with comic effects. They have disasters on the way but can see the humourous side of it. Maybe the author sees it more often than the other two and the dog as he continues to rib them. Certain passages are worth reading again and again. Especially about the plaster of paris trout in an inn and also the preparation of Irish Stew.

There never is a dull moment reading this book. I liked re-reading it. In the present times, Bryson fits the bill for writing great travelogues.