Book review: Three Men in a Boat Companion
It was 124 years ago that British writer Jerome K Jerome wrote his most famous book, Three Men in a Boat. But despite the age of the book, it still captures people’s imagination and thus in 2012 Stephen Lambe completed his book, The Three Men in a Boat Companion.
Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat was a novel inspired by his honeymoon boat trip along Great Britain’s River Thames. The book is part travel guide, part historical account from a humorous angle.
The book was an instant success and remains in print to this day. It also inspired an increase in the number of registered boats on the Thames and helped make the Thames a tourist attraction. It continues to receive accolades with Esquire magazine ranking it as number 2 of the 50 Funniest Books Ever in 2009. When British rower Tim Foster wrote about his Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion four he titled it ‘Four Men in a Boat’, such is the influence of Jerome’s book.
Jerome has frequently been quoted, especially for his humour and for a period there was a museum in his honour. One of his most well-known is, “I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.”
Lambe’s Companion is the work of a true Jerome fan and the book’s press release says, “He (Lambe) first read “Three Men in a Boat” as a teenager and has a lifelong fascination with the book and its author.” Being a fan of Three Men in a Boat and having an interest in the River Thames will be what draws people to the appeal of the Companion.
It opens with some descriptive and explanatory passages but most of the book’s content is photos with accompanying descriptions. The photos range from pictures from Jerome’s day through to Lambe’s own family connection with boating on the Thames. But the majority of the photos are of the Thames today, visiting the various places that Jerome’s book mentions. These include a fair sprinkling of pubs that Jerome visited, most of which are still standing and Lambe revisits many of them. Photos of the many rowing clubs dotted along the banks of the Thames also feature.
Barely a photo is presented without it containing some aspect of the River Thames and remarkably the water is always mirror-flat and the blue sky is overhead.
By the end of the book, Lambe’s Three Men in a Boat Companion has more of a feel of a travel guide of the Thames River rather than a story on Jerome and it makes a rowing trip on the Thames look very appealing.
The book is available through the World Rowing Library at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk