Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)
Jerome K. Jerome, Author
This is a truly unique novel that combines all of my favorite elements: travel (specifically through Britain), dry humor, and astute observations. I did not expect so much when I picked up this novel.
This novel actually made me laugh out loud. It was, at times, quite hysterical. There are some really great moments, like the main character's transporting some smelly cheeses on the train. Jerome's humor is transcendent; it really does not feel as old as the nineteenth century. And it doesn't always feel particularly Victorian.
More impressive to me, though, than his ability to make me laugh, are the serious elements of the book. Jerome consistently makes incredibly perceptive points about his society. These points come at unexpected moments, but never seem preachy. Sometimes the points are part of a larger story, like his discussion of the value of antiques. At other times, though, the entire story is the message, such as the sad tale of the single mother.
Furthermore, Jerome manages, in all of this, to write a great travelogue! Until this novel, boating on the Thames was not something that really appealed to me. But, his descriptions of some of the cities have perhaps opened my mind a bit to the notion.
All in all, this book really has a lot to offer. And you'll love the way he talks about his little dog.