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4.3 out of 5 stars407
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 30 June 2013
If you like Withnail and I, then you'll just love this. It's utterly timeless; anyone who's tried to put up a tent (for example) will recognise it instantly. It really is laugh-out-loud funny. The language is beautiful and it's incredibly well-written. I cannot recommend it enough.

If you don't love this book, and don't weep laughing whilst reading it, then there's something wrong with you.
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Firstly, I should point out in all honesty that at times in this free edition some of the paragraphs seem to start out with a couple of words that describe what the paragraph is about. When you start to read a paragraph like this, then just skip to the next word starting with a capital letter, and you will be okay. Apart from this there is no other gripe about this edition, it is all here in its full comic glory.

First published in 1899 this met with bad and indifferent reviews, but the public just couldn't stop buying it. I think most people must be aware of the story but for those who aren't basically it is this. The narrator and two friends, plus a dog decide to take a boating holiday upon the Thames. This is their story, about what happens, and problems that they have; also it is in parts a travelogue, as well as being full of comic asides and anecdotes. Despite its small size there is just so much inside the pages of this.

I first had to read part of this at school, when we were doing anecdotes, but I just had to buy the full book for myself. Since then I have read it countless times, and suggested it to others, and so far I haven't found anyone who doesn't like it. We all love to have a laugh, and you can't go wrong with this book.
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on 23 August 2014
I first read this when I was 17- and almost got kicked out of the school library for making those 'trying-not-to-laugh-and-end-up-snorting-instead' noises.

30 years on- and here I am with a shiny new toy (my Kindle Fire) and browsing which freebie books I can pop on it (cheapskate that I am)...and what do I see but Three Men in a Boat. Curiosity kicks in and I decide to see if it's anywhere near as amusing as I seem to remember, or if that's just nostalgia telling embellishing. It's been known to do that to me before.

Deciding I have nothing to lose (because, y'know, cheapskate...) I download and begin to read.

Oh dear heaven!

I not only produced the same giggle-snort noises of yesteryear- but had to give up reading it it in the evening because I was literally crying with laughter and was in danger of disturbing everyone.

Yes, it's an easy read (and what's wrong with that?) and yes, if a reader can't get it into their head that it isn't a bunch of 21st century guys with modern thoughts, attitudes and ways of dress/ speech etc- but Victorian 'fellows' then they'll probably not 'get it'. Sadly that's their loss. IT's the sheer beauty of the language and period that make it so darn funny. There are some passages which meander off into a bit of a history lesson now and then and may seem a little out of place with the humourous tone overall- but you can feel Jerome's genuine fondness for his subject and it never hurts to actually pick up a little knowledge here and there, after all.

The only real criticism I have isn't of the book itself- it's the slightly odd formatting. The kindle version lacks the original illustrations but does have random words or word at the beginning of paragraphs and chapters. I rather suspect that these words describe the illustration that should have been there- almost as if someone has removed a picture but left the 'tags' in that you may see 'Dog swimming in water' right at the start of a paragraph about Montmorency (J's dog) being in the river. It made me wonder if the English language was having a funny five minutes before I realised what it probably was- and learned to ignore it after that.

Five stars from me- because if a book by a Victorian chap about other Victorian chaps can make me laugh aloud and have to dry my eyes and wipe my nose whilst doing so, some 125 years later- it's got to be worth a look, hasn't it?
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on 30 May 2014
If I am feeling blue then reading Three Men in a Boat is guaranteed to cheer me up! It is so funny, even over 100 years later, and I love it to pieces. The humour is something that everyone can relate to as it is still the humour of today - the main character tells the story of how he and his 2 friends and the dog take a river trip, and he relates all the adventures that happen on the trip. The dog provides a lot of entertainment, as do the men, who are not without their faults. There are hilarious descriptions we can all relate to; I particularly like the bit where they are packing and things won't fit in the case. Then there are tales of how they try to get back to their camp in the dark, and various scrapes along the way. It's not a long book but it does have a lot of laughs.
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on 8 March 2016
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book, aside from the growling concern of the inner child in me at the depressingly dreary-looking image on the cover; I was expecting Wuthering Heights, on water, without any females.

What I got was an enjoyable romp following three close friends as they take a journey much like Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, except this is set in England, with older characters, and all of the wonderful grump, mature friendship, and amusing mistakes and accidents that happen when we are brutally honest with ourselves and each other.

Very few books manage to capture the bemusing reality of life in England, during any era, and this book does just that - it is fun, funny, never taking itself seriously, and although there isn't a driving demon, dragon, magic, sword fights, or any maiden to save, this story pulls you along to the very end, making you want the three friends to carry on with their boat journey forever. I wanted a sequel, simply because the characters were so well rounded and well written.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the English sense of humour (see all of the Wilt books, or Monty Python), and understands the very accurate reality of the absurd, especially when it comes to the way English people behave towards each other, and how they deal with every day life's funny twists and quirks.

For anyone who has not visited or lived in England, this is a must read; an insight into the depth of English character, and why the 'stiff upper lip' is actually a sarcastic comment on how soft and gentle most English people truly are.
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on 13 February 2012
Jerome K. Jerome; it's hardly a name you're likely to forget once you hear it, and though that happened many years ago I never once felt compelled to read any of his titles until I came across 'Three Men In A Boat' on free kindle download. Now I can honestly say that it is one of the funniest, true-to-life books that I am ever likely to read. There are two things that make it a little cumbersome in the beginning; the rather squashed-up layout of the print, with seemingly random words at the beginnings of many paragraphs, and the long-winded language used in writing, which was the way at that time. But the latter soon becomes a huge enhancement to the story; the detail is so rich it takes little effort to picture yourself in the moment, and the anecdotal style which runs throughout I can describe as nothing less than storytelling genius; so much of what is said is still so true today - the medical dictionary, packing for the trip and the frustration behind the task of opening a can of pineapple are truisms you can't fail to laugh out loud at. Some of the reviews suggest the story falls a little flat at the end, and I can see why that assertion was made, but this only happens after a somewhat poignant event (I won't say what it is) has taken place, and rather than the author running out of steam I would say it stays true to human nature; you witness such an event and suddenly the zest and vitality is removed from within you, as appears to happen here. You lose interest in your surroundings and things aren't quite as they were. Intentional or otherwise, my inclination is to applaud the author for following the previous traits of the book with a very intelligent piece of writing. I'd never have thought a story that shot off on so many tangents so frequently could ever hold my interest, but this is truly unmissable. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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on 26 September 2012
Having joined the kindle revolution I have downloaded as many classics as possible, what with them being free and all, with the express intention that I WILL one day be familiar with all the 'books you should read before you die'. Ergo, Three Men in a Boat slotted into my e-collection and, knowing absolutely nothing about it, I gave it a try.

I really was pleasantly surprised. In trying to explain it to a friend I realised that there is no plot to speak of and nothing really happens for the entireity of the novel. It really does do what it says on the tin! There are reams of anecdotes throughout, to highlight the monumental silliness of the three central characters (and the dog) and silly for me is akin to fun; a really daft bit of escapism from the dourness of a wet, cold September in recession-hit Britain. I rarely laugh out loud at a book and when I saw that other reviewers had made this claim, I was skeptical, but I have to admit, I did indeed chuckle audibly throughout.

I can appreciate that this won't be to everyone's taste - I have recently read that it was actually written as a children's book so this probably says more about my immature sense of humour than anything else! If, like me, you enjoy linguistic slapstick with a good dose of tongue-in-cheek, you will probably find this to be a very amusing way to pass the time.
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on 3 March 2014
I've loved this book since I was a child. Jerome embarks upon a boating holiday on the Thames with two friend and his dog. As they go they encounter the difficulties of everyday life (the description of two men trying to pack late at night is hilarious) and recount stories about boating and indeed life in general. Ignore the first section on hypochondria and health, it doesn't really stand the test of time but the rest of it more than makes up for that. The troubles of a young man trying to show off in a punt, the impossibility of finding a bed on a bank holiday, what happens when the dog meets an old tom cat, ordinary life is laid out as it is and the incident of the shirt tells you more about ordinary, everyday human nature than many three volume novels.
Jerome wrote this soon after he was married, and the happiness of that period of his life pervades the book.

It is quite well laid out, the only negative being that the illustrations are replaced with the name of the thing illustrated, which has quite a disconcerting effect.
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on 13 July 2013
Brilliant classic. Read several times and still laugh! Very evocative of time and pace of life of those days. Not a demanding read, but delightful
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on 15 August 2013
It's amazing that this book is over 120 years old and yet still has the power to reduce me to fits of laughter. I would defy anyone to read his account of a man taking two cheeses on a crowded train from Liverpool to London without having tears streaming down their face. Likewise his description of the rendering of the song "Two Lovely Black Eyes" on the banjo. Marvellous stuff! I think the key to it is the wonderfully innocent and dead-pan nature of his writing style. He never feels the need to dig you in the ribs to warn you that a joke is coming. I found this hilarious when I first discovered it in my teenage years and I still find it makes me laugh out loud (and not many things do nowadays) many decades later. If you haven't discovered this classic yet, you're missing a treat.
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