This is my second post for the 2016 Classics Challenge – sign up and join 400+ other people in reading one classic each month.
“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”
Suffering from every malady in the book except housemaid’s knee, three men and a dog decide to head for a restful vacation on the Thames. Anticipating peace and leisure, they encounter, in fact, the joys of roughing it, of getting their boat stuck in locks, of being towed by amateurs, of having to eat their own cooking and, of course, of coping with the glorious English weather.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I can’t quite remember but it might have been when I first got my Kindle back in 2011. I downloaded a whole bunch of out-of-copyright classics for free and this was one of them. But it wasn’t until I started the classics challenges that I actually decided to read it.
“We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.”
WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted a short, light read and this seemed like the perfect classic! I came across the audiobook on Spotify and started listening to it on the way to work.
WHAT Makes It A Classic
It’s one of the oldest books I’ve read – 127 years old! (That’s 100 years older than myself).
“I don’t know why it should be, I am sure; but the sight of another man asleep in bed when I am up, maddens me.”
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
Three Men in a Boat was a thoroughly enjoyable classic – and I don’t say this lightly. It helped that I was listening to the audiobook narrated by Hugh Laurie, who was perfect for the story. It’s told with the sort of British humour that I forget how much I enjoy until I hear it – witty, hyperbolic one-liners told in a serious tone. I rarely laugh at any book, but this one had me trying not to giggle on the way to work.
Three Men in a Boat is exactly what it says on the tin (or should I say, cover). George, Harris, narrator Jerome, and a fox terrier called Montmorency (a fantastic name!) take a two-week boating holiday from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford and back again. Even though much of the story is about the everyday experiences of the river journey – from washing one’s clothes to making a pot of tea – it’s made much more enjoyable by Jerome K. Jerome’s expert understanding of the things that tie us all together; it’s like a 100-year-old version of Very British Problems.
WILL It Stay A Classic
Yes – even though it’s an older classic, it still feels funny and fresh. I could quite believe that it was only published this year.
WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who enjoy British humour. People who want to read older classics. People who want to give classics audiobooks a try.
“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.”