Conceived as a fairly serious guide to amateur boating on the Thames in 1889, Jerome K. Jerome''s best-known novel ended up as a hilarious account of the misadventures of three friends and a dog as they attempt to relax and enjoy themselves amid unreliable weather forecasts, imaginary illnesses, repellent cooking, and an unopenable can of pineapple chunks.
Three Men in a Boat was a terrific success for its author, and a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the age. George, Harris, and J., the narrator, were entertaining representatives of the new middle class, seeking to escape the dreary world of offices and desks during weekend trips out into the countryside. Jerome''s heroes proved so popular that he brought them back for an equally picaresque bicycle tour of Germany, an adventure recorded in Three Men on the Bummel. The new Introduction by Jeremy Lewis describes the social context of the two books and the remarkable life of their author.