Sometimes British humor is often hard to swallow for us Indian reading audiences with their references, twisted use of language, and ramblings. Three men in a boat is a humorous approach to bring out British absurdities and traditions in an interesting way. This book was initially meant to be a travelogue but ended up as one of the most loved funny stories of all time. And the best part of it is that even after more than a hundred years of publishing the jokes have not lost their fresh appeal.
Three men in a boat is a humorous, bestselling, classic book written by an English writer Jerome K. Jerome. It is about a two-week boating holiday trip taken on the Thames river by three men who suffer from a weird ailment and a dog. The setting of the book is in England and is based on Jerome and his two real-life friends George and Harris along with a dog Montmorency. The story starts when one day after being tired and bored by their busy lives the three friends decide to go on a boating trip with their dog. The sail for two weeks and the story describes their river journey and all the incidents that take place. They meet new faces, face bad weather and challenges, and feel nostalgic. The travelogue portion of the book is still apparent as along the trip Jerome mentions all the villages and landmarks they pass like Hampton court, Hampton church, Monkey island, Magna Carta Island, Marlow with the titbits about the culture of the places. The main part of the book though was intended to be a travelogue was influenced by the comic instances that crop up giving it a complete humorous angle. Jerome many times digresses and starts off random anecdotes and ponderings over life. He talks about friends, friends of friends, and historic characters, and his comparisons know no boundary. He gives an outstanding character sketch of all the main subjects of the story starting from George and Harris to the dog. He talks of how Aunt Podger used to take a week-long break to her mother’s place when Uncle Podger would fill her place as a curious homemaker trying to fix little things in the house to make Irish stew from all the leftovers.
It is a fast-paced novel where the experiences they had are worth reading. It is written in a simple yet engaging language.
The book though is interesting enough but suffers from some drawbacks too. One of them is that the return trip up the Thames is covered in just one chapter which seems a bit too short and incomplete. The whole journey ends up abruptly and quite suddenly. But to add finally the wry, sarcastic wit and humor along with the misadventures, exaggerations, madcaps, silly and stupid twists and turns of the story leave you happy and satisfied. It is worth reading out on a lazy weekend afternoon when you have just completed a not-so-happy lunch.
About the author
Jerome Klapka Jerome was an English author and humorist best known for his creation of a comic travelogue,’ Three Men in a Boat’ written in 1889. This book is written personifying himself, his two real-life friends George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel whose in-character names are George and Harris. It was a phenomenal success and it contributed immensely to the promotion of the Thames river becoming a major tourist attraction. Jerome has been an inspiration to many humorists and satirists around the world and his writing style was loved and much appreciated.