Due to my recent and worryingly extended book drought…

…I decided to go back to my old standby in an attempt to cleanse my palate, so to speak, and try to get back into the reading pace I usually maintain. Then I realised that I’d never written about it here. And then I realised that it would be impossible to write any sort of review of it – I couldn’t possibly do it justice.

So I hereby present Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog: A Love Letter:

Dear Three Men in a Boat: To Say Nothing of the Dog-

It was Connie Willis who introduced us. I remember very clearly, reading the dedication in her book and wondering ‘What’s all this, then?’ As soon as I’d finished her book, I went down to Barnes and Noble (which is odd because, at the time, it was in third place on my list of bookshops) and there you were, a slim orange book waiting for me on the dark shelf. Since that day I’ve checked for you everywhere (it was in a small used bookshop in Hampstead that I found my favorite copy of you).

You are my favorite book. You are the only book that I return to over and over again, sometimes when I’m feeling a bit blue, sometimes when I just want some familiar company. You draw out my full range of smiles – fond grins when you talk of your toothbrush or your Uncle Podger, half-dreamy ones when you lose yourself in a lovely indulgence of Victorian prose, and even a laugh or two when you divulge your troubles with opening a tin of pineapple.

I always sigh when I have to replace my bookmark and close you away for the night or when I have come, once again, to the end of your pages. But I always know that, no matter how far I stray, you will be the only book I reach for again and again.

No one that I know had already read you when I met them. Sure, Jasper Fforde has and Hugh Laurie has (or at the very least, an abridged version) and I assume Stephen Fry has because his mind is the equivalent of a human copyright library, but other than them (and, to be fair, the man who reads the unabridged version of the audiobook, though I don’t know his name), I do not know anybody who doesn’t know me that has read you. I always tell people about you, although I do have to warn them that I once lent you to a boyfriend who gave you back to me later with a half-hearted ‘I didn’t really get it – nothing happened’ and it was just downhill from there and that if they’re going to read you, they can’t tell me because if they don’t like you, I can’t like them.

Sometimes, at my most nerdy, I daydream that when I am proposed to, it will be a first edition of you being offered to me on bended knee instead of a sparkling diamond ring. But then, what the hell, it’s my daydream, isn’t it? I’ll have both, thank you very much, and let’s go ahead and toss in Three Men on the Bummel (thought it’s just not the same without Montmorency) just to round out my collection.

But enough of writing about you, I think it’s time for me to pick you up and see where we are for the evening. No matter which chapter I’m on, whether it’s Harris’ comic songs, people taking up piracy to avoid a courting Henry VIII, being towed by girls, or a large group of swans, I’ll be happy to see you.

I remain ever your loving reader &c,

Anne

p.s. – And that, Maureen, is how you rock a sub-subtitle, bitch.

p.p.s. – Yeah, I know this all sounds a little creepy, but, really, it’s a wonderful book. You should all read it. Just remember not to tell me. 😉

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