I enjoyed Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog so much that I promptly needed to read Three Men in a Boat too. I had a lot of fun with it! It's a great little relaxing and funny read.
J. and his two friends need a break from the turmoil of life, so they decide to take two weeks on the river. They will hire a boat and go up the Thames, camping or staying at inns and enjoying the open air and scenery. So off they go, traveling from the edge of London to Oxford, having adventures on the way.
Jerome is just a really funny writer. It's great stuff. He takes a camping trip and turns it into immortal literature. Here's a bit on the awkwardness of staying in a house where there is a courting couple...
It must have been much like this when that foolish boy Henry VIII was courting his little Anne. People in Buckinghamshire would have come upon them unexpectedly when they were mooning round Windsor and Wraysbury, and have exclaimed, “Oh! you here!” and Henry would have blushed and said, “Yes; he’d just come over to see a man;” and Anne would have said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you! Isn’t it funny? I’ve just met Mr. Henry VIII. in the lane, and he’s going the same way I am.”Every so often, Jerome stops being funny and puts in some philosophy or sentiment. In these spots, he writes the kind of prose that only a Victorian could possibly have written. I do not say it is bad prose; it's just really, really Victorian. I tried quoting some, but you'll just have to read it in context.
Then those people would have gone away and said to themselves: “Oh! we’d better get out of here while this billing and cooing is on. We’ll go down to Kent."
And they would go to Kent, and the first thing they would see in Kent, when they got there, would be Henry and Anne fooling round Hever Castle.
“Oh, drat this!” they would have said. “Here, let’s go away. I can’t stand any more of it. Let’s go to St. Albans—nice quiet place, St. Albans.”
And when they reached St. Albans, there would be that wretched couple, kissing under the Abbey walls. Then these folks would go and be pirates until the marriage was over.
I've now made something of a triangle. I read Have Spacesuit, Will Travel last month, and in it, Kip's dad reads Three Men in a Boat and talks about how great it is. Connie Willis read it for that reason, and dedicated To Say Nothing of the Dog to Heinlein. Neat, huh?
I traced the Thames from London to Oxford. To me, it looks really long and far for a rowing trip. They do have a sail every so often, but I can't quite understand how they can possibly get so far while rowing upstream. If some English person could enlighten me I would be grateful. Anyway, the majority of the trip is spent in Berkshire, so that's where I'm counting this book.