Today I finished Three Men In A Boat. I suspect that isn’t how this day will go down in family history, since it was also the Carbon Copy’s graduation – one of those events which is extremely exciting for about four seconds, and quite irrelevant for the remaining hundreds of hours. Even so, it wasn’t too bad, and I made a respectable “wooo!” when Col tramped across the stage, which he claims not to have heard.
The other thing of note is that I have joined the list of links on Susan Hill’s blog – thank you Susan! If you’ve found Stuck-in-a-Book that way, then welcome, welcome, welcome. Even if Susan doesn’t like Jane Austen…(!) Personality Test Results In Soon For Everyone. Maybe.
Back to Jerome K. Jerome. What a wonderful book! Three Men In A Boat is far too well known to get onto my list of fifty, but I’m still going to shout about how funny and well written it is. When I lent someone a book of AA Milne’s sketches from Punch, they responded by saying Jerome’s book was similar, and they are right. Though a 1889 book (according to my Preface) it feels much more 1910/20s than Victorian – lots of litotes and hyperbole in turns, absolutely everything is anthropomorphised (very amusingly) and basically the book is style, not plot. In fact, the ‘plot’ is that three men, er, go boating. Not forgetting Montmorency the dog. From this, the narrator ‘J.’ produces more a series of anecdotes than a narrative, though there is a central thread of the current outing, running, if you will, like a river through… no, sorry, too much. If you’re looking to read a multi-layered Victorian novel, look elsewhere – but for an uncomplicated laugh, you can’t go far wrong. And the postcard-bookmark I used was Ernest Proctor’s Porthgwarra (c.1926) which I bought in a gallery in Cornwall.
Have they ever made a film of Three Men In A Boat? Somehow, I can’t see the complete absence of plot working very well on the big screen…