Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome

Title: Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog.
Series: Three Men #1.
Writer(s): Jerome K. Jerome.
Publisher: Penguin.
Format: Mass Market Paperback.
Release Date: April 5th, 2012.
Original Release Date: January 1st, 1889.
Pages: 176.
Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Humour.
ISBN13: 9780241956823.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.


Who could ever say no to a holiday away from the stresses of life, from the people who gift you shamelessly with headaches to the dreadful responsibilities that haunt you daily? There’s nothing like putting it all behind you and departing on an adventure that not only sounds wonderfully relaxing but is sure to keep you away from everything else that could ever crank up the anxiety within you. Originally intended to be a travelogue by English writer Jerome K. Jerome, this beloved classic published in 1889 recounts a holiday that went wrong with countless humorous beats while being based on real friends of the author and a completely fictional dog accompanying the troop, and readers as well, through this journey on the Thames.

What is Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog about? The story follows three elderly men, George, Harris, and Jerome, as well as Jerome’s dog, Montmorency, who, after a very illuminating evening discussion, conclude that they might be suffering from an innumerable number of illnesses and have decided that they needed a calm and peaceful vacation on the River Thames. Unfortunately, what they get was not smooth sailing from start to finish, roughing it out with problem after problem, but still encountering remarkable landmarks around the river to soothe their soul. Narrated by Jerome, often referred to as “J.”, the story also contains a myriad of anecdotes pertaining to candid and nostalgic times.

“We must not think of the things we could do with, but only of the things that we can’t do without.”

Jerome K. Jerome

They’re odd, they’re silly, and they’re constantly finding themselves in trouble. More often than not, they’re self-absorbed, but they’re kind-hearted souls, who’d end up tripping on themselves at any given moment. The journey itself, from the planning to the execution, of an expedition on the Thames, takes second place in this story but gives a delusive sense of progression, as the narrator attempts to relate the events that they witness first-hand. However, somehow, he effortlessly digresses at a frightening frequency to tell supposedly amusing anecdotes on completely random matters. He also ends up gazing at historical landmarks and sharing commentaries on them, and, however descriptive or poetic as they may be, these details, unfortunately, just cruise over the reader’s head, who, to be fair, probably didn’t expect any hint of a travelogue in what is clearly more of a comical journal than anything else.

While there’s indubitably an audience for this comedy novel, it has served me as a reminder of a fact that I’ve always been aware of but unfortunately tend to forget: I prefer my comedy, not only dark, cynical, and full of sarcasm, but also in unexpected and smaller doses in a larger tale not centered around comedy alone. To be told beforehand that something is supposed to be funny somehow just creates an unmeetable expectation and a monstrous anticipation that will always work against the story itself. This beloved classic is a perfect case in point. What was supposed to be a short and sweet piece of literature turned out to be quite the workout, one that had me desperately looking everywhere between the lines for a joke that could tickle me and at least put a small smirk on my face. I do have to say that there are some fun moments and most of them ironically pertain to the dog which the story allegedly says nothing about. While there’s a sequel to this story, I definitely won’t be taking a peek at that and if I do, do kindly remind me that comedy novels just aren’t for me.

Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog is an amusing supposed-to-be-funny classic following three men and a dog through an unpredictable ordeal across the Thames while digressing in every way possible.



32 thoughts on “Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome

  1. Hahahhahaahaha! I laughed my way through this review. Much like I laughed my way through the book 😀

    Sorry it didn’t work out for you but that’s the main problem with humor. It is SO subjective and it covers such a broad territory. Kind of like saying you like “fiction”. While I enjoyed the book, I doubt I’ll ever seek out the sequel either. I didn’t think the book was THAT funny after all 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good luck with THAT goal. I’ve found that Wodehouse consistently works for me but he’s about the only author. Everybody else is completely hit or miss. And for no reason that I can tell.

        If you do find an author that makes you laugh consistently, read all his stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I had a rough time with The Colour of Magic too, for example, but I still want to keep going and try more of the books to see if it isn’t just a question of what the story is about or maybe that it was too early in his career and his writing won’t work for me for those first couple of books.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Humor is a difficult (and sometimes dangerous) beast to tame, and as if that were not enough, our modern concept of humor has changed considerably since the book was written, so I guess your reaction would be quite similar to mine if I choose to read this…
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry to hear this brand of humor didn’t work for you. I’m not familiar with this one but it does remind me of a couple movies I thoroughly enjoyed. Not sure if this type of humor will appeal to you more in movie form. Have you have watched either of the two movies, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, and The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared, based on books by Jonas Jonasson. I’ve not read those books, either, but hope to one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw that there are a couple of movie adaptations of this classic and I don’t know if I’ll enjoy it more as a movie, I’d have to test it out to find out. I haven’t heard of either of those two movies though but I’ve seen the books around before! I never looked into them though but I wouldn’t mind trying it out someday just to see how I fare hahah Thanks for reading, Todd!


  4. Great review, Lashaan! So I guess you didn’t “fall out of bed laughing” like someone apparently did at the Guardian? 😛 too bad this didn’t work out of you! I also find things somewhat less funny when people already tell me in advance that it’s very funny, because then there’s just no surprise anymore!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I ‘think’ I read this one in the past. It seems to ring a bell. Especially the dog’s name. But, I like things to be fast-paced. Floating on a river and watching paint dry can be relaxing but reading about it – not so much.
    Dark humor is my preferred type, too. It definitely isn’t easy to write. It has to be jarring and/or unexpected.
    There was a book I read at the beginning of this year that was a mix of mystery, crime, and comedy. While it wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, it made me chuckle a few times. However, but the time I passed the half-way mark, I knew what to expect from the humor and it no longer amused me as much. The suspense was what carried it til the end. The second book though was nowhere near as entertaining. Expected humor, expected plot… Maybe it’s my fault for being able to figure out things so quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha it’s still a pretty fast-paced read because of its short length alone and the numerous anecdotes that distract you from all the boat-floating non-action. Those are some interesting instances of how comedy works differently and fulfills different roles according to the reader. For sure, if you get used to a style faster than others, the comedy better get crazy creative the further you get into the story!


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