Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The African Queen by C. S. Forester

“We nearly done it that time,” he said; she could not catch the words because of the noise of the river, but clearly he was not discomposed.
Allnutt was acquiring a taste for riverine dangers--rapid running can become as insidious a habit as morphine-taking--apart from his new happiness in Rose’s society. Rose sat on the gunwale and kept her feet out of the water. She would not let her weakness be seen; she forced herself to be matter-of-fact.

In 1914, after Germans capture the local African villagers to train as soldiers and her missionary brother dies, Rose is left alone in an empty, isolated village in German Central Africa. When the man who delivers mail and supplies to their village, Charlie Allnutt, arrives, she insists that they must head toward the lake where the Konigen Luise (a German boat) patrols, to blow it up in the name of England. Rose and Charlie find love and adventure as they attempt to reach the lake at the end of the Ulanga River.

What I loved about this book: the language, the adventure, the romance, the visceral sense of life on an African river and the many perils the characters encountered. The author--also the author of the Horatio Hornblower series--was obviously very knowledgeable about boating, so the feeling of time and place along with the details of the workings of the African Queen (a flat-bottomed, 30-foot launch) and the descriptions of Africa really rock. My husband has read two of the Hornblower books and I definitely plan to read them.

What I didn't like: the ending. I'm afraid the ending was a huge let-down; in this regard, the movie is quite a bit better. I don't want to spoil the ending in any way, so I won't elaborate. I followed up the reading of the book with a viewing of the movie.

One item of interest: Charlie Allnutt is an English Cockney in the book, a far cry from the "Canadian" played by Humphrey Bogart in accent, but equally cheerful and loquacious.

I'm quite curious how other people feel about this book, so if you've read it please leave a comment and tell me what you thought. I enjoyed it enough to give it a high rating despite its ending.


The photo above shows my copy of The African Queen, which was discarded by the library eons ago and, therefore, qualifies it for the TBR Challenge as well as the Classics Challenge. Yippee to that!

Up next: A review of The Captain and the Enemy by Graham Greene and lots of housework. Blecch. You wanted to know that, right?

Anecdote of the day: While waiting for the pharmacist to fill a prescription for my husband, I overheard a woman talking about her mother's health. Mom was better but still not doing well, said the woman; and, unfortunately that meant she had to keep Mom's dog.
"It's a . . . a . . . what do you call that kind of dog? It's a Hilton! You know, the kind that heiress has?"
The pharmacist stared at her for a second and then said, "A chihuahua?"
"That's right!" the woman replied, pleased, and then she frowned. "Yappy little monster. I wish my mother would get better and take her dog back."

I really should get out more. You just never know what you're going to hear in the real world.


  1. Totally off-topic to your blog post, Nancy, but I just had to pop in and say that that is an awfully yummy pic of Hugh Laurie in the sidebar! ;-P Hee hee...

    <>< Mizbooks
    (who thinks "Dr. House" is great!) ;o)

  2. Hi Miz Jenn!

    Isn't he gorgeous? I figured I might as well have something else great to look at whenever I check to see if my blog posts came through okay. ;)

    I've been trying to talk the kiddo into staying home from swimming, tonight, because he's feeling lousy. Ulterior motive: I wouldn't miss House. Kiddo's determined to go to practice, though, darn it.

  3. what a dope I am! I didn't realize that it was a book first!!

  4. Heather,

    I find out movies were novels first (after I've watched the movie) frequently - and always feel like I must be living with my head in a bucket. "Oops, surprised again" is one of my life themes. ;)

  5. Blah. I hate it when books have dissapointing endings.
    Btw, I thought of you last night... the publicist who sent me Susan Grant's newest book, just sent me Linnea Sinclair's newest too! Games of Command comes out the end of this month.

  6. Hi Angela,

    Me, too, on the let-down endings. I was glad to have the movie to follow-up the book with so that I could have a redone ending in my mind. :)

    Oh, cool on the Linnea Sinclair book! When will those two be released? I looked for Susan Grant's book because I thought it would be out by now. No luck. Not that I need to buy any more books.

  7. Sinclair's will be out at the end of this month. Grant's will be out March 1st.
    I'm not supposed to post the reviews till the release date.. probably because people will start looking for them before they're out, like you did! But I just wanted to give you a heads up, since I know you like them both.

  8. I'm going to start referring to chihuahuas as Hiltons from now on! Or maybe Britneys.

    I have never read AFRICAN QUEEN. I'll have to add that to my TBR pile. Thank you for your lovely review, as always.

  9. Angela,

    Thanks. My last gift card is probably spoken for, now. :)


    Hilton sounds better to me. I heard Britney's dogs mysteriously disappear when she doesn't need them for a photo op. Hmmm.

    Do be forwarned that the ending of African Queen is awful. I thought following it up with the movie helped because then I could mentally change the ending. Otherwise, I really enjoyed it and would like to read the first Hornblower book as soon as I can squeeze it in. :)

  10. I love your new sidebar material! And I just noticed the Mississippi bridge pic at the bottom of the page. Nice! Not as nice as Hugh Laurie, but still nice. ;)

    I haven't read The African Queen but I did see the movie years ago. I like Katharine Hepburn quite a bit.

    Too funny about the dog!

  11. Thanks, Les.

    I put the bridge pic up on the first day I set up this new template. It's easy to overlook. And, yeah, Hugh provides a much better view. :)

    We hadn't seen The African Queen in many years. The book was a fun excuse for a replay of the movie. I think I may downgrade my rating of the book, though. The more I think about it, the more I feel like the ending is enough to knock it down a bit further.

  12. That is an excellent picture of Hugh Laurie.

    Re: House -- I can now pick up a San Francisco TV station on my computer, so because of the time difference, I watch on Wednesday afternoon from 2-3. It's been so long since I've seen commercials, that I'm even enjoying them, although there are still too many.

    Re: The African Queen -- One of my favorite movies. I'm making up a list of "expat" movies and that's on it, of course. I think I've seen the book over here. Must check that out...

  13. Bybee,

    Everyone seems to be enjoying the Hugh View. LOL

    Lucky you picking up House that way! Kiddo has swim practice on Tuesday nights and I leave at 8:00. We usually straggle in around 8:50. Oh, boy, 10 whole minutes of House. But, it's better than nothing!

    Last time I looked, The African Queen still wasn't out on DVD but was due to be released. I don't know what's taken so long!!! It's a fun movie. The book gives a lot more detail about the hazards along the Ulanga/Bora and, of course, the characters are better defined. I've thought about downgrading more because of the ending, but haven't made up my mind. I really did enjoy the rest of the book.


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