Book Review of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

This is another classic which is available for free although it can be worth paying the small fee for a cheap digital copy or a hard copy since some of the free digital copies have some quality issues. I got a free digital copy from Amazon to save space in my bag and I noticed that every time there’s an illustration the copy says what the illustration is and goes straight on to the text. You get used to this but to begin with it’s a bit confusing. Also there are a few snippets missing, which have then been added at the end. Having said that, if you’re really low on funds these are minor issues and other free digital copies may be better.


The book is narrated in the first person by J and who mainly talks about himself and his human friends George and Harris, plus Montmorency the dog. There are a variety of minor characters sprinkled throughout the book. The three young men are all clearly fairly well off, although they mention working, and none of them are particularly practical. I have an audiobook of this narrated by Hugh Laurie, there’s an extract on YouTube and I definitely recommend this, since Laurie captures the story perfectly, basically all the main characters are in the Bertie Wooster vein.


Three Men in a Boat starts and ends in London and some people may find it a bit slow to get going, but if you do I think it’s worth the wait. Most of the book deals with a trip along the Thames between London and Oxford during a summer in 1889 or thereabouts. The exact date isn’t mentioned but this was when the book was published.


The setting and the plot are pretty much one and the same, the story describes how it came about that the three men decided to take the trip, then follows the trip itself. It includes a few anecdotes and short stories involving the three men and/or people they knew prior to the trip taking place.

Overall impression

Although some of the language is obviously dated and I doubt a book describing three middle-upper-class men on a boating trip would be an obvious best-seller today, many of the observations of human life are still absolutely on point and I found parts of this book, literally, laugh-out-loud funny.

In short - Get a decent digital copy or a hard copy and keep it to treasure.

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