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Summary

Exclusively from Audible

In this comedic masterpiece, three young men, increasingly given to thoughts of hypochondria, decide to embark on a journey along the river Thames.

Confident that the fresh air and daily exercise will grant them immunity from a myriad of illnesses and diseases, they pack up their frying pans, toothbrushes, food and canine companion, Montmorency, and set off on an unexpected adventure.

As the men come up against hilarious and often avoidable obstacles on their journey from Kingston upon Thames to Oxford, Jerome K. Jerome offers listeners a unique look back at the joys of youthful naivety, comradery and playfulness.

Supremely English in nature, Three Men in a Boat, paved the way for the later works of authors such as James Thurber, PG Wodehouse and Nick Hornby.

Based on a real-life experience, Jerome's comic approach to this story transcends the passage of time as his themes and subjects remain universal. An explorer of new ideas and customs, Jerome K. Jerome developed great insight along his travels throughout Europe and the sheer plausibility of his stories serves to enhance the comedic effect of his writing.

As an international best-selling title, Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat was met with such immediate success that it has never been out of print since its publication in 1889.

Narrator Biography

Ian Carmichael was a veteran comedy actor, best known for his roles in Private's Progress, I'm All Right Jack, Brothers in Law and School for Scoundrels.

He played Dorothy L. Sayers' gentleman detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, on television and radio and his audiobook narration of these stories can be found on the Audible website.

Ian was classically trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and after a brief stint in the Royal Armoured Corps during the Second World War, he graced stage, screen and radio for over 50 years.

He was and remains a national treasure and was appointed an OBE in the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

©2007 Jerome K. Jerome (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

"[Narrator Ian] Carmichael, the quintessential English gentleman, captures perfectly the delicious inanity of our intrepid heroes' conversations and the bemusement of the locals they meet along the way. He conveys beautifully Jerome's evocative, almost wistful, descriptions of Thames-side towns whose august historical pasts illustrate the glory that was Britain. This delightful performance crystallizes the author's humor and vision and is sure to enchant its audience." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Three Men in a Boat

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    4 out of 5 stars

A very Victorian boat trip

Having read this book quite a number of years ago and the remembrance of enjoyment, it was with hesitation that I took up the audio book. It's always a danger of having a poor impression, not because of the quality of the writing or reading but because it is not read in the same "voice" that you read to yourself in your head.

It was however a joy to "read". Ian Carmichael so very much captures the language and keeps the flow of the story running like a comfortable chat by the fire in the gentleman's club.

I was taken aback by some reviews that make comments such as "Slapstick and Sentimentality" when there was little if any of either. The story makes most of its humour from what is read between the lines and not said outright. The story teller is trying to embellish a story to make themselves look good and pass on advice but the audience (you and I) sees through this to what is really going on and it is this that is funny.

The joy of this book is in the language, the phrasing and the ability to create a picture precisely what is taking place and carry you along with it with a smile on your face.

6 people found this helpful

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A Review of this version of the book!

This book is superbly read by Ian Carmichael, not Hugh Laurie as stated by another reviewer!

A terrifically well written and funny period piece - in no way slapstick, it's humour is based upon language and anecdote and I found it an easy and delightful book to listen to.

Please at least get the narrator right before commentating on a recording.

6 people found this helpful

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Simply Charming

Excellent book, with Ian Carmichael's narration perfect for the style. Very much like attending a 19th Century five-hour observational comedy show (I would imagine). Break out the Pimms, give the dog a biscuit and sit back and enjoy.

3 people found this helpful

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How on earth is this so popular?

Carmichael perfect as always, but how on earth is this novel so popular, with, for example, The Guardian no less ranking it No. 33 of The 100 Greatest Novels of All Time in 2003!

I think it is terribly dated & uneven & unforgivably purple at points. In ways Wodehouse is not, for example. Forced myself to finish it... spare yourself & spend your audible credit elsewhere!

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The River

great Performance, from one of the great English comic actors, one of my top books brilliantly done

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Superb comic novel.

One of the very best comic novels, brilliantly narrated by Ian Carmichael. Have listened to the performance twice, and will do so again .

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5hrs worth of ramblings

The struggle to finish this one was real . Very good performance, the content was not great . Very disappointed.

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Good, but weird chapter distribution

This is the closest I've found to a proper unabridged version narrated by an English actor with the cut-glass diction and voice modulation I associate with middle-class late Victorian/early Edwardians, which for me adds immensely to immersion in the story.

I have to admit that I preferred Hugh Laurie's performance (because Bertie Wooster in my formative years!) but I found his version far too abridged; Ian Carmichael more than does the story justice and definitely strikes the right notes to convey character and humour.

There's a bizarrely rambling preamble from the American voice-over built into the first audio-book chapter, and the audio-book chapters don't track the paper-book chapters - each audio chapter covers several paper chapters, and the length of audio chapters is weirdly uneven. It isn't a problem unless you're trying to find a particular passage, though.

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Wonderful snapshot of Victorian privilege

Very much in the Jeeves and Wooster mould, this account of a river trip up the Thames in 19th century Victorian England is a treasure. Well-written, beautifully observed with satire and slapstick, it takes you back to a different age.

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A gently anarchic, whimsical, comedic travelogue.

“Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.”

Three hypochondriacs spend an evening discussing the illnesses they believe they have. They conclude they are over worked and are in need of a holiday. After much debate they decide upon a boating holiday on the Thames. The three men, Harris, George and J, therefore embark on a boat trip setting off from Kingston upon Thames with a fox terrier called Montmorency.

Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog), to give it it’s full title, is one of the books who’s reputation gained it a place on my ‘books to read before I die’ list. When I came across this Audible version read by the late great Ian Carmichael I thought he would be the perfect person to narrate it. This proved to be a good call.

Jerome K Jerome’s novel published in 1889 is a gently anarchic, whimsical, comedic travelogue worthy of the praise it receives and its timeless appeal isn't so hard to appreciate. It’s a study of friendship, human weaknesses and forgiveness. It portrays a beautiful bygone England. According to J, the narrator, ‘It was a lovely landscape. It was idyllic, poetical, and it inspired me.’

Reading it (or listening to it in my case) is the perfect antidote to todays hi-tech, hi-stress world. Jerome wrings the most improbable humour from the most mundane situations such as opening a tin of pineapples (which is hilarious!). Then there’s the exploits of Montmorency (the dog in the brackets of the title). I loved the description of his encounter with a black Tom cat. You can see where the observational humour of comedians like Peter Kay and Michael Macintyre came from.

It was viciously panned on publication but Jerome proved the doubters wrong because it’s still in print today. It’s an absolute delight and a brilliant way to idle away a few hours.

As I’ve pointed out Ian Carmichael narration of this book is perfect. The way the Audible chapters are set up though is a bit odd. There are 19 chapters in the print version and 6 in the Audible version. However the book chapters don’t always end at the end of the Audible chapters. Chapter 13 for example starts in chapter 4 of the Audible book and ends in chapter 5, chapter 8 starts 28 seconds before the end of the Audible chapter 2! So the Audible version needs a bit of restructuring.

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  • Jerri C
  • 04-12-11

Timeless humor

Would you listen to Three Men in a Boat again? Why?

I will listen to Three Men in a Boat many more times in the future. This book was written pre-1900, but I love it's timeless sense of humor. Many things have changed since then, but human nature is still the same. And Ian Charmichael does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Montmorency, the dog, is a delight. Jay, the Point of View character is a great deal of fun as well.

Which character ??? as performed by Ian Carmichael ??? was your favorite?

I think that Ian Carmichael brings a feeling of reality and importance to George that I hadn't noticed when reading the paper version of the book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Virginia Waldron
  • 05-07-08

Great Narrator

Entertaining performance. Although I found the story lots of fun, it is dated and becomes a little laboured in its humour. A nice idea for a narrative but a little tedious for me as the story progressed. Beautifully performed and that does keep the listener interested. I'm glad I've experienced this story as it does give the reader a sense of time and place which is fascinating. The characters are humourous caricatures but I did not warm to them as much as I expected. I got the feeling the writer was playing for laughs rather than being funny after a while. Fun and interesting in its own way however. Worth a listen regardless of its being rather stereotypic.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Ms.
  • 20-08-12

Victorian Comedy and Boating Trip

It's verbose, but it's Victorian so one would expect that, and the funny parts are in the deadpan details. The reader makes me believe he is actually the story's narrator, a young man who wants very much to believe himself capable and dashing.

The narrator tells a very brief story with so many tangents that it runs on and on, and I giggled each time he recalled himself back to the main story line. Very funny, and well worth a listen with this narrator.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Inky Fingers
  • 04-05-20

Classic British humor

One of the few cases where the narrator outshines the book, and the book is pretty awesome.

1 person found this helpful