- Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
- McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
- Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
- Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
- Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
- Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
- Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
- Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
- Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
Page count: 2786.
I hadn't planned on reading Three Men in a Boat just now. Rather, I was the victim of circumstance. During a train ride home with a Susannah cast member, we got to talking about books. He was currently reading Three Men in a Boat and I mentioned I had seen it in a bookstore at the same time I bought The Diary of a Nobody and was quite curious. The two do seem to be linked together as slim and very English satires of late-nineteenth-century English middle class life.
I hadn't expected to see it again when I gave him my copy of The Diary of a Nobody, which he had expressed interest in reading, yet he treated it as a loan. When he returned it to me, he had for me his copy of Three Men in a Boat, which was clearly regarded a loan. I resolved to read it as soon as I finished Gilead. But I was not about to rush Gilead and didn't finish it until the day of my last Susannah performance. (In fact, the ending of Gilead left me in such an inspired state that it raised my final performance to a whole new level.) Though I thought I could finish Three Men in a Boat in just two days, given its length, there was no way I could finish it quickly enough to return to my castmate at the cast party the next day. It actually took me two weeks to finish this slim volume.
Three Men in a Boat starts off in a very charming manner. It just never really goes anywhere. The three men (and Montmorency, the fox terrier) don't actually spend much of the book on the river or in the boat. Three Men in a Boat is more a collection of anecdotes and hyperbolic tales than a narrative of three men on a boating holiday. Indeed, too many of the bits that were narrative simply described the idyllic Thames countryside as the boat worked its way upstream. The boat trip was very much peripheral to the reminiscences about historical events or such and such crazy incident that happened to this and that acquaintance. These anecdotes were all charming and flashed a satirical edge, but, as is the case with charm, it lacks much substance. I began to tire of all the cleverness and charm halfway through.
Perhaps I am not being fair. The novel as a whole is entertaining and witty, and I often smiled. I guess I was in the mood for something that might hit me deeper than a mere grazing of the surface. This would be the ideal read for a nice little sojourn in the country. As novellas go, it's an English bonbon, which is all well and nice, except when you want meat and potatoes.