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Three Men on the Bummel
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2000
Three Men on the Bummel is a far less well known book than its big brother, the celebrated and beloved classic Three Men in a Boat. Several years have elapsed between novels - indeed to those of us who know and love George, Harris and J it is somewhat startling to find J and Harris married with children. But domestic bliss is starting to cloy, and as the men develop ploys to escape for a holiday, both wives are seen to be extremely "modern" women! Suffice it to say that a cycling tour in the Black Forrest ensues. Jerome's constant observations of the Germans are disconcerting; yes, he writes amusingly of them as lovable eccentrics, obsessed by order and orders, but he was not to know to what hiddeous effect this contributed to in 1939-45, and the shadow of the War was often in my mind. But is the book as funny? I have to answer "yes." Harris and the hosepipe, George's spree of crime, the phrase book outing, all are as funny as anything in the original. Uncle Podger stories are still there, and I laughed out loud many, many times. A gem of a book. Oh, what's a bummel? Read and find out.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This sequel to Three Men in a Boat only sporadically achieves the joy of its progenitor. The narrator and his pals George and Harris (he says nothing of the dog) polish up their bicycles and go a-roaming through the Black Forest in Germany. Naturally they get into scrapes and adventures, and these are sometimes very funny. Here, gentle fun is poked at the Germans' horror of stepping on the grass:

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In a German park I have seen a gardener step gingerly with felt boots on to grass-plot, and removing therefrom a beetle, place it gravely but firmly on the gravel; which done, he stood sternly watching the beetle, to see that it did not try to get back on the grass; and the beetle, looking utterly ashamed of itself, walked hurriedly down the gutter, and turned up the path marked "Ausgang."
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But a lot of the time the characters seem mere decorations on a straightforward piece of travel writing, sometimes disappearing for most of a chapter - as for instance when the author describes the German Mensur tradition, in which students evidently competed to scar each other with manly wounds. Well worth discussing, perhaps, but out of place in a comic novel. And sometimes when the humour is present, it doesn't quite come off: for example, a lot of effort is expended in contriving a situation in which three drunkards end up sleeping in each other's houses; but the farcical opportunities are wasted as the episode simply winds up.

It remains a perfectly pleasant book, but it hasn't the modest perfection and warm-hearted charm of the earlier book. It's perhaps most memorable for its weirdly prescient remarks on 'the German character'; in particular:

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In Germany today [pre-WWI] one hears a good deal concerning Socialism, but it is a Socialism that would only be despotism under another name.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2012
'Three Men in a Boat' is one of my favourite books and never fails to make me laugh so I though I ought to read this. I'm glad I did but it is nowhere near as funny as its predecessor. It has occasional moments which are wonderful - a tale of a dog in a restaurant, for example - but what is really fascinating is its picture of Germany in the years immediately before World War I. Jerome clearly likes them but mocks them gently for their degree of organisation. There are a number of places where Jerome's pronouncements seem uncannily prophetic or, conversely, absolutely bizarre given what came later in the century.So worth reading but don't expect to laugh very much.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 October 2011
I had never bothered to read this because it was generally accepted as not being as good as its predecessor. Now, at least forty years after reading 'Three Men On A Boat' I took advantage of this being free on Kindle, read it, and discovered that it is in fact not as good as its predecessor. That's not to say that there aren't some very funny episodes nor that the more serious elements aren't worth reading either; especially thought provoking is a section on the possible outcomes of what Jerome views as the German habit of over-deferring to authority. Given that they were written in the late 19th century these are almost spookily prescient. However much of the book is repetitive (recapitulated descriptions of being woken early by one's hosts children, riffs on what would happen if animals could talk) and many of the targets are meaningless to modern readers. Does anyone know why watering the roads was such a big deal?

The best chapter is actually the first, containing a spot-on and very amusing explication of marital politics.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2011
We are used nowadays to authors, film makers etc doing follow ups to cash in on an intitial success. It often proves a mistake and you can't help feeling that here.
Three Men in a Boat is justly famed for its wonderful ironic humour. Three Men on the Bummel starts off in a very promising fashion as the three decide they need a change and make preparations for a cycling tour of the Black Forest. The first few chapters are brilliant but when the three men get to Germany it all seems to tail off. There is actually rather little about cycling through the Black Forest and by the time the final chapters arrive they are not much more than Jerome K. Jerome's views of the Germans with little attempt at humour. The whole idea of the book just seems to run into the sand. Worth reading though just for those first few hilarious chapters.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2002
Following that exploits of J., Harris and George as they make they way across Europe on bicycles, this book attempts to capture much of the humour of its predecessor Three Men in a Boat. However, I do feel that this time the humour is more laboured and some of the stories do struggle to be funny. Also absent is the effortless way that he combined beautiful poetic prose with outstandingly funny observations seen in Three Men in a Boat. Rather than being a continuous joy to read, the book tends to only shine every now and then. A good book, and well worth looking at, but I feel that it pales in comparison to Three Men in a Boat.
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on 20 December 2012
This is just pure fun. I hate modern comedy in all its shallow pointless `it's so bad it must be funny' mentality, in his book comedy just seems to spring out at you when you do not expect it. It is like listening to one of those great dinner party experts who ramble on with a dry tale that has you laughing out loud at completely random parts of the tale. Please do not compare this with 3 men in a boat they are different books, this one actually looks at the culture of the people and makes comments that show a race of people easily influenced without question. I found the book, funny, insightful, and engaging, storytelling, as it should be. You could even ask if it was so easy for the storyteller to see the Germany of the time in this way, then why did others not see the potential risk of the coming years.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2007
This is a very funny book for anyone who cycles, is thinking of cycling, or looking for reasons not to take it up! It contains many funny scenes including the maintenance of a cycle prior to a holiday in the Black Forest - reducing the bike to a pile of bits and pieces including a bummel in urgent need of a repair person! A wonderfully crafted comic treat which puts most contemporary comic writing to shame.

Mick Drake author of the comic novel All`s Well at Wellwithoute
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on 17 December 2013
This is a sequel to the well-known and much-loved Three Men In a Boat. It is written in the same vein about the same period and much of it is as funny as the first book. However the Bummel (German for sort of wandering lazily about) takes place in late 19th century Germany, and a lot of the humour latterly in the book is based on British perception of Germans from this era. These perceptions changed drastically during the 20th century, so modern readers are not familiar with the national idiosyncracies and type of characters that Jerome K Jerome is poking fun at. However, if you have read the first book, there is no harm is reading the 'follow-up'.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 December 2012
For some reason, this sequel to Three Men in a Boat has never been as popular as its illustrious predecessor. Yet it is almost as funny, with some extremely drole episodes that had me laughing out loud at the clash of the (English and German) cultures. For example, how you will get into trouble if you throw things out of the window of your boarding house at a noisy cat below. Yes, there are some observational scenes that are not intended to be funny, but this was also true of the historical digressions in Three Men in a Boat.

Highly recommended.
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