Three Men in a Boat is an episodic journey of three men in flannel and boaters traveling up the Thames River in Victorian England. They sleep in the open air, wander off to town for roast mutton or something, and offer the occasional improving diversion into English history. It’s a lightweight read, told in a droll style, and there were some laugh-out-loud lines.
It was a real pleasure to come across the context for the much-quoted: “I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” He goes on for a bit more in that vein, and as you can see, the tone can be quite infectious.
Having said all that, Three Men in a Boat doesn’t really have a plot. It’s just stuff that happens on a river trip. The book kept bringing to mind my long-ago canoe trips on rivers in the Missouri Ozarks — more as contrast than as comparison. But really, the story of the fox terrier in the train station makes the book worth reading.
Now I’ll have to read Connie Willis’ book again.