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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 18 May 2004
It seems that human nature hasn't changed much since Victorian times! This collection of anecdotes, observations and witticisms is a true classic, completely unaffected by the passage of time. The author's understated, self-deprecating style of humour had me roaring with laughter virtually from the first page, and even now - a week after finishing it - I still find myself chuckling at odd moments when I remember certain turns of phrase.
I was put off reading it for a long time because for some reason I had got it into my head that it was a rather heavy-going political satire. I don't know where I got that idea from, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It's a gentle, easy read. Not much plot to speak of - just the tale of three friends (and a dog) taking a boating trip up the Thames. Full of mishaps, humourous reminiscences and spot-on comments about the ridiculousness of human behaviour, it makes ideal back-garden reading for the summer.
Highly recommended. If you've never read a classic and want an easy one to start with - this is it!
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on 28 August 2005
I first came across this in the school library when I was 12 (35 years ago!) I have read it and re-read it again and again. In a desert-island-disks type moment I chose it as one of my quintessentially English books to take with me when I went to live in the USA for a year. I cannot read it in public - or in the presence of my wife due to the unstoppable sniggering that it induces in me (and the rolling eyes this induces in her!). I love the 'Maze' scene and am laughing now just thinking about it. The hypochondria opening is a classic moment too (Housemaid's knee!)
Please read it - yes it's Victorian humour, but it's STILL funny today.
I was devastated when I found it was number 101 in BBC's 'Good Read' 100 favourite books ever list a couple of years ago - Shame on the BBC!
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on 17 October 2004
I first picked this up at age of about 11, from the bookshelf in a guesthouse where I was staying for a few nights with my parents. I was in a room by myself, and apart from a couple of shouted requests to shut up, was left to hold my sides and laugh as quietly as possible.
I'm now 52, and have a wonderful original copy which I have read time and again, and still get requests from my fiancee to shut up and stop laughing.
It doesn't matter how many times you read it. This is quite simply the funniest book ever written in the English language. Yes, it's based in an age long gone; but it's great to know that self-effacing, typical British humour hasn't changed one iota.
Any Englishman who hasn't read this is the poorer for it!
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on 2 January 2006
It's a wonderful book. Harmless escapism and lashings of good humour. What could be more pleasant? It's one of my favourite reads. Three men, one dog and a row boat - sometimes lazily and sometimes energetically pulling up the River Thames, having endless adventures, calamities and runs-in with the consequences of "Murphy's law". I wondered if I would enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed reading it and I'm delighted to report that Hugh Laurie has done an excellent job of this abridged reading . It's not surprising really. His television interpretation of Bertie Wooster is spot on for that character, and the character of J. (the author/narrator, Jerome K Jerome) in this tale, is so similar in many ways to Bertie - in attitude, speech mannerisms etc - that Mr Laurie seems just perfect for the role. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the outrageous exaggerations, boasts and scenic descriptions, read in exactly the voice I imagine J. would have. I've listened to it twice so far and will, no doubt, listen to it whenever I need to be cheered up.
There are 2 CDs in the box and the running time is two and a half hours.
Highly recommended.
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My first recollection of encountering this classic maritime adventure, written by Jerome K Jerome, was in the 70s when I attended a one-man show in which Jeremy Nicholas recounted the story of three men and a dog and their trip up the River Thames. In true tradition the tale was recited, not without error, to a large audience in a comedic style that reminded me of PG Wodehouse, another of my literary heroes.

Jeremy Nicholas's career has been based almost entirely on this one author and he went on to become the President of the Jerome K Jerome Society. I never forgot that performance and it gave me a taste for Jerome K Jerome and his stories.

It was not until three decades later that I encountered this unabridged rendition of this classic story by Martin Jarvis whose name will be instantly familiar to listeners of the 'Just William' and 'Jeeves and Wooster' audiobooks. Martin's comic delivery, animated style and energetic story-telling ability is strongly reminiscent of that of Jeremy Nicholas and for this reason I can heartily recommend this recording.

This recording is, of course, the unabridged version which I much prefer. However, to tell this tale requires 6 CDs and over six-and-a-half hours of listening time. It may be long but it is never boring. It is a complex and steadily evolving adventure story about a boat trip up part of the River Thames. For the most part it is full of humour but it does have its darker moments.

The recording is supplied with a small, 12-page booklet that describes the content of each of the six CDs and also contains a mini biography of Jerome K Jerome and how he came to write Three Men in a Boat.
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on 24 August 2001
If this book proves one thing, it is that good humour is ageless. Jerome K Jerome shows his mastery of wit and words in this hilarious tale of three batchelors on an eventful boat trip. There is a great depth to the modes of humour, which keep the reader chuckling from page to page. It makes you wish you could sit next to the author at a drunken dinner party and hear his hilarious tales first hand.
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on 26 March 2001
When an author's name is Jerome K. Jerome, you know you are in for something special and this book does not disappoint you. Originally conceived as a guide to the River Thames, Three Men in a Boat, is the funniest, maddest book you are ever likely to find, about something as simple as idling down a river. The book ranges far and wide beyond the scope of either a travel guide or a memoir. It is full of little anecdotes about such things as barometers and hypochondria. It makes mention of the pleasures and perils of having your boat towed by girls. It explains the dangers posed by swans and the trauma caused by tinned pineapple. Whilst the language is from a bygone age, the book is never stuffy or boring. The humour is as fresh today as it was when Queen Victoria was on the throne. This book is so funny that I had to stop reading it on the London Underground where laughter and frivolity are frowned upon.
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on 9 April 2001
I picked up an old war time copy of the book. It had been lurking at the back of my bookcase for as long as I can remember, but I felt like reading something clean and amusing. What a great choice! I think this must be the funniest book I have ever read. The tears ran down my face. I laughed out loud in public places. I could not believe it had been written in the 19th century, the humour seemed so fresh and relevant. If you want just a rollicking good laugh on every page, with the funniest images flicking through your brain, I would recommend this book as one of the most enjoyable I've ever read. Now I am going to get a new copy of it. Every page of my war time copy (made within economical rationing guidelines), fell out as I read it. I think it must have belonged to my grandmother.
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on 14 November 2005
J. (the author, Jerome Klapka Jerome) and his two chums, George and Harris, are feeling a bit seedy and under the weather, so they decide to take a little holiday. They feel a nice, relaxing row up the Thames will do them all a world of good. They can take their time, stopping when they find a nice scenic spot, camping and preparing their own food when they feel like it and dining or sleeping in rustic old inns when the mood takes them. J. brings his rascally Fox Terrier dog, Montmorency, along too. From the beginning, when the packing goes awry, to the end, when the weather washes away all their enthusiasm, the chaps (to say nothing of the dog), get into all sorts of binds and pickles. It's a very funny tale and, if not for the fact that some of the poetically described scenes along the river banks may have disappeared under roads, carparks and supermarkets by now, it could have been written yesterday. The adventures of the dog are certainly still happening. Montmorency's run in with the cat might easily have been one of the adventure of my own Lakeland Terrier. It's a regular occurrence when small, impertinent dogs challenge large, disdainful cats. The cat, perceiving that it's being chased by a small dog, just turns round, sits down and stares at the little dope. And the little dope skids to a halt and tries to pretend it was on quite a different mission, which has suddenly lost its urgency, turns itself about and walks gingerly away. Lovely to see a version of this common canine/feline comedy so beautifully described in this book.
It's easy to see why this writer reminds so many readers of the wonderful P G Wodehouse. The style, humour and characters are quite similar. Wodehouse is also one of my favourites and if he's one of your favourites too, you'll enjoy this book enormously.
Highly recommended.
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on 27 January 2001
Jerome K Jerome's classic account of the hilarious mishaps of three men (and a dog) on a boating holiday on the Thames offers much more than a straightforward narrative of their experiences. The book concerns itself with witty and touching observations on the trials and tribulations of everyday life and gives sharp, accurate and amusing insights into human nature. The language the author uses is imaginative but succinct, and you find yourself reading back over his prose in admiration. But the real beauty of the book is that many of the ideas on the world which JKJ wrote over a hundred years ago are strikingly relevant today.
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