Book Review: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (Three Stars)

Book Review: Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Three Stars

“People tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and cheaper and more easily obtained.”

A book famous for being famous, and perhaps not worth the reader’s effort. Jerome anticipates Seinfeld by a century. (Published 1887) While he writes with the whimsy of A. A. Milne, his snarky commentary on the Millennials of Victorian England reads like a Seinfeld stand-up monologue.

“When George is dead, Harris will be the worst packer in the world.”

“I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

Calling it episodic credits it too highly. The self-referential ramblings of a young Londoner who undertakes a fortnight holiday rowing up and drifting back down the Thames with two friends, hence the title. (Connie Willis appropriates the story as the superstructure of her science fiction tale, To Say Nothing of the Dog.)

“I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend.”

“What the eyes do not see, the stomach does not get upset over.”

Like their fortnight on the Thames, fades away more than concludes. Like Seinfeld, greatly overrated.

“We fall asleep beneath the great, still stars, and dream that the world is young again.”

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