A Trio of Classic Reads: Mini-reviews

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Recommended from things mean a lot

Jerome’s 1889 tale of three men who take a boat trip down the Thames is delightfully funny and accessible. I think Jerome’s book is technically classified as fiction, but based on real people and real boating trips. (Apparently the dog, Montmorency, is completely fictional.) I decided to augment my reading experience by following along their trip using Google maps, and looking up pictures of landmarks and hotels and pubs online as well. There was something inexplicably satisfying about finding the named location from the book on the map. I also just learned that Oxford River Cruises offers skiffs for hire by advertising on their site “Live the Jerome K Jerome Classic Tale of Three Men in Boat“.

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

Recommendation from Eva

The Blue Castle is the only book of L. M. Montgomery’s where none of the story takes place on Prince Edward Island. (It’s set in Ontario). In this story, Valancy Stirling is an unmarried woman of 29, who lives unhappily with her horrid family. Feeling some unusual pains, she visits the doctor who diagnoses her with a terminal disease. This knowledge frees her from her submission to others’ judgments and she invents a whole new life for herself. There’s a great matter-of-fact marriage proposal that occurs half-way through the book, and I do envy the cozy island life Valancy chooses for herself. An enduring mental image I have in my head from this book is of Valancy happily snow-shoeing through the Canadian forest.

Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope

This is the fourth novel of the Chronicles of Barsetshire. While introducing a new set of characters, Framley Parsonage also carries forward characters from the third novel, Doctor Thorne, which I read last year and from the second novel, Barchester Towers, which I read several years ago and had more trouble recollecting the particulars. In any case, as with the rest of this series, I loved Trollope’s writing and his nuanced characterization. I thought the plotline about Mark Robarts’ debt scandal dragged on in places, but it was more than made up for with the return of the glorious Martha Dunstable, who had a supporting part in Doctor Thorne. There’s a great set piece in the middle of the novel when Miss Dunstable throws a party and two mortal enemies – The Duke of Omnium and Lady Lufton – are forced to acknowledge the other’s existence.

Two Cats.gif

All three of these books are from my Classics Club challenge list, which I don’t think I stand a chance of finishing by September 2017, which was my goal, but I will still have pushed myself to prioritize reading more classic books than I otherwise might have done.


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6 responses to “A Trio of Classic Reads: Mini-reviews

  1. I read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis last winter and it constantly references Three Men in a Boat (which I’ve never read)…if you like time travel in a British setting I’d recommend it!

  2. This post is pure catnip to me–complete with kitty GIF!
    I must get the Montgomery and the Trollope–love those authors, never read either of those books. And perhaps it is time to re-try the Jerome. I’ve tried it before and didn’t find it funny (I know! What is wrong with me?!?), but maybe now would be the right time.

    • Trollope has such an extensive backlist, it’s comforting. Somehow, though I obviously did find Jerome’s book funny, I could totally see that it wouldn’t float everybody’s boat (ha!). Humor can be really situational and personal in that way.

  3. I love the cats! I like Framley Parsonage a good deal. It ends up having a long reach into the culmination of the series, “The Last Chronicle of Barset”. I am going to try to join the classic reads group.

    • Thanks! And good to know re: the last book. I really should not space out the novels quite so much as I forget details from previous books that are referenced in the later books. But as much as I love Trollope, the length of his books is still quite daunting!
      I do enjoy being part of the Classics Club. I hope you enjoy it too if you decide to join.

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