Three Men in Boat Book Review

Topics: River Thames, Time, It Was Written Pages: 2 (938 words) Published: January 1, 2013
Our narrator, the author Jerome, and his two friends, Harris and George, decide (after much wrangling) to go on a boat trip up the Thames. From Kingston to Pangbourne they row and tow their way up the river and through the locks, spending their nights on the boat under a cover – along with the dog, Montmorency. That is the plot, but not the point of the book. In one way, it’s a travel guide, peppered full of tips for people who want to do something similar; it’s also a guide to the history of the places along the river, but more than that, it’s a satirical work of humour that’ll get you sniggering and snorting. Far from following a simple chronological path, J tells his travelogue with a great many anecdotes, asides and tangents. Some of his historical tangents get quite poetical, though he doesn’t take anyone very seriously (that wonderful British blend of nationalistic pride and deprecation all in the one breath). Along the way, we learn about Harris’ inability to sing comic songs, the problem with cheese on a boat, J’s hatred for tombs and George’s story of the time he forgot to wind his watch. It is a lively blend of the interesting, the absurd and the quaint – for there is something about it, perhaps in my imagination alone, that is sentimental, a kind of “I know this lifestyle is coming to end, but let’s not forget the good times, hey-what?” (Maybe I get this sense because J himself spends time imagining ancient kings and famous deeds at the different locations.) Never having been to England (despite the fact that so many Canadians think I have an English accent!), I can’t picture what this stretch of the Thames must look like today, but I can imagine it’s changed considerably – in terms of river traffic, if nothing else. But I could be wrong, maybe lots of people still row up and down it, towing their way through locks and having picnics on the bank? I have my doubts. Reading this book more than a hundred years after it was written, it comes with a heavy...
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