Three Men in a Boat is a very funny novel written (and set) in the late nineteenth century.
The three men of the title are the narrator, J., and his friends George and Harris. They are all hypochondriacs. Hoping to take their minds off things, the three of them decide to take a boat trip up the River Thames. J’s dog Montmorency, a fox terrier, comes with them. There is almost no plot, but there are many amusing digressions.
This book was an inspiration for Connie Willis (To Say Nothing of the Dog). At one point the characters are attacked by a bunch of swans; I’m pretty sure that scene inspired a similar incident in Willis’s book.
I listened to the Naxos audiobook read by Martin Jarvis, but I also have the ebook from Project Gutenberg.
some quotes I liked:
“Harris said, however, that the river would suit him to a “T.” I don’t know what a “T” is (except a sixpenny one, which includes bread-and- butter and cake AD LIB., and is cheap at the price, if you haven’t had any dinner). It seems to suit everybody, however, which is greatly to its credit.”
“How good one feels when one is full — how satisfied with ourselves and with the world! People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.”
“Everything has its drawbacks, as the man said when his mother-in-law died, and they came down upon him for the funeral expenses.”