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The African Queen by C. S. Forester

The African Queen (1935)

by C. S. Forester

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The African Queen - C S Forester **

I remember seeing the film years ago, but I had no idea it was based upon a book, and even less of an idea that it was the same author as the Hornblower series. Written in 1935 and set during the First World War, it tells the story of Rose Sayer (a missionary’s sister) and Charlie Allnutt a cockney mechanic and also captain of his own small vessel called the African Queen. The two unlikely characters find themselves thrown together when Rose’s brother dies and Allnuts crew desert him after rumours of conscription services in the war. The German occupation of the surrounding lands is fortified by a gunboat Königin Luise, and any British attack would probably be badly hampered or fail with this obstacle in their path. Rose decides to try and do her bit for the war effort and convinces Charlie to turn his boat into a kind of makeshift torpedo and ram the gunboat. The two personalities couldn’t be more different, but they will need to work together if they are to stand any kind of chance....

This, for me, is one of the few books where I actually preferred the film. I don’t think it has aged all that well and was a very slow burner. There just wasn’t enough to hold my attention. The other thing that really grated on me was the way that Allnut’s speech was written in dialect, I know he is a cockney... this was made apparent very early on, do I really need to try and decipher everything he says? That has to be my pet hate in books, some people say it adds to the realism, and for me it just disrupts the flow. I got sick of reading: ‘ere, ‘ow, ‘is, an’, ‘asn’t..... just add the bloody extra letters and be done with it. And don’t get me started on altering whole words, substituting ‘awye’ for ‘away’ and ‘agine’ for ‘again’. The odd word may not bother me too much, but sometime it was nearly every word in a sentence.

Anyway... as I said, a lot of people seem to have read and enjoyed the book. I just wasn’t one of them. ( )
  Bridgey | Jan 10, 2018 |
A fun, fast book though the ending was different from the movie version. I must have seen Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the film 10 times & it was interesting to get to know the characters a bit more in depth. ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 28, 2016 |
Having seen the film many times, I was impressed with the way the film mirrored the book...with the exception of the ending which was vastly different but just as satisfying. The other thing you don't get from the film is the growth of Rose who goes from a placid, dull , submissive woman to a veritable lion-heart. Excellent read! ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
A rare case of movie better than the book. I love the Bogart/Hepburn film but the book was a bit boring and had an unsatisfying ending. I'm not a fan of reading dialect and unfortunately one of the two main characters had his every word written in phonetic Cockney. ( )
  parasolofdoom | Jan 16, 2015 |
The African Queen by C.S. Forester is a book that I have long wanted to read. Originally published in 1935, this is a memorial WW I story that takes part in a remote corner of the world. German East Africa comprised what is now known as Burundi, Rwanda and part of Tanganyika (now known as Tanzania). At the opening of the book the Germans have come to the mission of Rose and her brother Samuel and stripped the place of food and animals. The native people are conscripted and marched away, leaving Rose and her sick brother alone. Samuel succumbs to a fever but keeping Rose from being totally alone, Charlie Allnut, fleeing downriver from the Germans in a derelict boat called The African Queen arrives.

Rose and Charlie bury Samuel and head off down the Ulanga River in the African Queen. He is thinking of hiding from the Germans in a remote backwater, while she is burning to strike a blow for England against Germany. Nothing will answer but that they travel down the perilous river and blow the German gun-boat that guards Lake Tanganyika, called Lake Wittelsbach in this book, to kingdom come. As they travel together, feelings arise and their mutual admiration of each other soon grows into love. As Rose is a forceful, determined woman she soon takes the place of leader and Charlie becomes her faithful, admiring assistant.

Rose and Charlie are a wonderful pair of mis-matched people. Together they pilot the African Queen towards their goal. As Charlie puts it, “We’ve come along under steam, an’ we’ve paddled, an’ we’ve pushed, an’ we’ve pulled the ole boat along with our hands.“ The author brings these two unique characters to life and through them sets a wonderful story in motion. One of my favorite reads of the year. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Oct 25, 2014 |
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Although she herself was ill enough to justify being in bed had she been a person weak-minded enough to give up, Rose Sayer could see that her brother, the Reverend Samuel Sayer, was far more ill.
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AR Level 7.9, 11 Pts.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316289108, Paperback)

First published in 1935, C.S. Forester's classic romantic adventure is a tale of opposites attracted. Allnut and Rose, a disreputable Cockney and an English spinster missionary, wend their way down a river in Central Africa in a rickety, asthmatic steam launch, and are gradually joined together in a mission of retaliation against the Germans. Fighting time, heat, malaria and bullets, the two have a dramatic rapprochement before the explosive ending of the book. This tale of unlikely love is thrilling and funny and ultimately satisfying.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Alnut and Rose, a disreputable Cockney and an English spinster missionary, wend their way down a river in Central Africa in a rickety, asthmatic steam launch. These improbable allies are separated by the thin line of civilization, yet are gradually joined together in a mission of retaliation against the Germans. Originally published: London: Heinem.… (more)

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