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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 18 July 2017
Reading this book and Diary of a Pilgrimage gives a fascinating impression of travel in Germany in the late 19th century. Although written humorously it has amazingly accurate insights into the German character that I still see on my annual holidays to southern Germany, and the last chapter is especially prescient. The humour is subtle and reminiscent of Wodehouse, and, like Wodehouse, even the wildest exaggerations have elements of truth.
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on 23 September 2017
Quite funny but dated
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on 18 May 2017
Good book
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on 9 October 2015
Great book
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on 16 August 2017
This is a work of genius - you cannot fail to read it over and over. Simply one of the funniest and wittiest books ever written
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on 24 September 2016
There's a crucial wrong word. On the opening page. It's written here, in this version as "patently" But it should be "patiently". Get an important word wrong on first page, and well, you loose faith in the rest. If little effort is expended on checking the opening page, how much scrutiny will there have been on subsequent pages?
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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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VINE VOICEon 21 June 2013
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:

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."

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:

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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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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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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