Friday, August 02, 2013

Friday Reading Assignment: Three Men in a Boat

Some books, even really good ones, require that you read at least one chapter before you are fully engrossed in the story.  Three Men in a Boat, (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome is delightful from the first page.  I always imagine the Victorians as a stuffy lot, but here is proof of their sense of humor.

The narrator and his friends, George and Harris, decide that for the sake of their health, they need a wholesome outdoor escape, so embark on a rowing adventure up the Thames, accompanied by Montmorency (the dog).  The quaint Victorian notion of fresh air or the seaside as an actual medical prescription may not be based in science, but it has its appeal.  It was once accepted that weeks of recovery were necessary for the most common illnesses, whereas now, it's considered beyond the pale to be unwell for more than two days together.  One wouldn't want a full return to the Victorian medical age, but it might be nice to be expected to stay in bed for a week with a cold instead of hacking miserably in your cube and insisting that you feel perfectly fine.

The real three men--it's a true story.

So where was I?  These three strapping young men need a fresh air cure.  The narrator spends considerable time gently mocking his friends, which constitutes much of the humor, not to mention their inept handling of the boat, reminiscences and side stories. The incident with the pineapple tin made me laugh out loud.  Three Men in a Boat is a quick, light read, perfectly suited for an airplane or a beach.

In imitation of Leaves and Pages, I'm posting pictures of the cover art for different editions of this book. I have a minor obsession with cover art and a bad cover can ruin a book for me.  My own copy is a library-bound edition from the University of Virginia, with the original illustrations.
We're told that George wears the loud coat.

I don't recall this scene, but I'm not finished yet.

A little too cartoonish

Contemplative Montmorency

This is beautiful, but looks a tad wintry

The Penguin copy is my favorite.


  1. I'm definitely putting this on my to-read list. The title reminds me of one of my favorite books: 8 Men and a Duck, by Nick Thorpe.

  2. That is a great book.

    "It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do."

    Jerome K. Jerome

    A good motto. :-)

  3. This sounds like a fun read. Definitely putting it on my list!

  4. Just as delightful as your review is your annotated list of the cover art!