First Impressions – ‘Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog)’ by Jerome K. Jerome

Author: Jerome Klapka Jerome
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Genre: Comedy novel
Publisher: J. W. Arrowsmith
Publication date: 1889


I was initially introduced to this story in 4th grade or 5th grade. The second chapter of this story was in my supplement English book, and I remembered it being hilarious and utterly chaotic. It left quite the impression on me, and I didn’t forget the title of the book throughout the years.

I found the book, again, while I was picking up all the story books I hadn’t read in my collection. It was a rather old copy; the book itself was quite small and filled with illustrations at various points, so I thought it wouldn’t take too long to get through the book.

Two weeks in, and I’m still struggling to finish it.

The story is about three friends – Jerome, the author, George and Harris – and their dog, Montmorency, who decide to take a boating trip down the river Thames. The story follows the incidents during the trip, and is sprinkled with anecdotes shared between the three friends (and sometime outlines Montmorency’s antics as well).

The writing style is quite reminiscent of the early 1900s style of English literature, made popular and famous by P. G. Wodehouse (one of my all-time favourite authors). There’s enough dry British humour to tickle your funny bone – for me, however, over the course of the book, that sense of humour grew old. The situations are ridiculous – and that’s the funny element, in quite a few situations. The storytelling is quite exaggerated to add to the sense of drama, which is enjoyable, except when the narrator rambles off on a tangent about something completely unrelated, which doesn’t add anything to the story itself.

There isn’t much to say about the story itself, other than that it’s more like a travelogue of three roommates and their shenanigans. Personally, I would have enjoyed it a lot more, had it meandered a lot lesser and stuck more to the topic it wished to describe. To be fair, though, there are people who would enjoy such descriptions and the care taken in producing them.

I haven’t finished reading the story – I’m still reading chapter 14. If I didn’t suffer from this feeling of incompleteness on leaving a book unfinished, I probably wouldn’t, either. I’ll probably power through and see it to the end. I’m not very satisfied with this book, but it’s probably not for me.

Did I enjoy this? Initially, quite a bit, but not so much towards the end. Would someone enjoy this? If they’re into the kind of encounters where they meet a friend and talking about nothing significant for hours on end, yes. And probably even otherwise, I’d reckon. But, even as I wish otherwise, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

First impression: Funny and chaotic. Dramatic narration reminiscent of 1900s England, good storytelling. Gets repetitive after a point in time.

My recommendation: If you like old-style writing and want to snort and chortle in good humour, you could give the first couple of chapters – the best, in my opinion. If you want to roar with laughter, pick up any Wodehouse.

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