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Three Men in a Boat - A review by Zohaib Waqas 12D



Three Men in a Boat is the book I've read more times than any other. I keep returning to it, but not out of choice. It's more of a compulsion, a sudden urge whenever I'm in need of a dose of humanity and laugh-out-loud humour.

First published in 1889, Jerome K Jerome's unassuming tale of three friends who decide to row up the River Thames from London to Oxford was massacred by the critics. They damned it for its lowbrow language and its triumvirate of hopeless, neurotic protagonists (not forgetting the dog, Montmorency). I can see their point. Who during the twilight years of the British Empire wanted a narrator who declared: "I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours"? The answer was everybody. The book sold in its millions, and continues to sell in huge numbers.

The timeless appeal isn't so hard to appreciate. Like the very best picaresque tales – Don Quixote springs most readily to mind – the journey itself, the quest, is little more than a convenient peg on which to hang a series of observations and discursive asides about life, in all its minute, baffling and absurd complexities. Jerome wrings the most improbable humour from the most mundane situations. The digression about his Uncle Podger's efforts to hang a picture is so delicately crafted that it beats the best of Laurel and Hardy. It's like listening to Michael McIntyre riffing about the "man drawer" in most homes, the one full of arcane rubbish whose purpose is known only to the male of the species.

Without a doubt, I would recommend this book to others.


Zohaib Waqas 12D

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