4
Oct 04

A sixteen year old me would have loved Three Men In A Boat.

The Brown Wedge • 145 views

A sixteen year old me would have loved Three Men In A Boat. The thirty one year old is less taken by its rambling travelogue. I still found it funny, and its constant digressions entertained, but it pales in comparison to what followed it. Clearly Jerome K Jerome’s book and style was immensely influential on PG Wodehouse. In Jerome’s own character as presented there is more than a dollop of Bertie Wooster, and the occasional appearance of a banjo seems like more than a coincidence too. So Three Men In A Boat feels to me like Wodehouse without the intricate plots: entertaining but lacking the killer punch of farce. All of which is thorough unfair to Jerome K Jerome.

Reading it as a travelogue, history book or as a guide to Jerome’s period is much more instructive. Around his gags are rather sweet evocations of the Thames which does fill the reader with a hankering to see if it all still exists. From a pubgoing point of view the appearance of a Blue Posts in the early London scenes rooted its geography perfectly for me. I know a few of the places on route, and while they have changed since JKJ’s day, the atmosphere remains in places like Sonning. But if a travel book is supposed to give the reader a desire to see the places described then for me it worked perfectly. I suppose my big question that hangs over me is why it took me so long to read it?

Add your comment

(Register to guarantee your comments don't get marked as spam.)


Required

Required (Your email address will not be published)

Top of page