Has there been a film version?
Yes – much more famous than the book. It starred Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
Who are the important characters?
Rose Sayer – a missionary to Africa who is left alone when her brother dies and the rest of the village has been conscripted by the Germans for WWI
Charlie Allnut – the mechanic and skipper of a steamship named “The African Queen,” he has a Cockney accent and somewhat of a dirty reputation
What’s it about?
When Rose Sayer is left all alone in an African village, she latches onto the first thing that comes along. Her brother is dead and all the villagers gone when Allnut shows up in “The African Queen.” He buries Samuel, Rose’s brother, and takes her onboard. Rose, filled with new independence and a burning desire to do something in retaliation against the Germans, convinces Allnut to brave the rapids of the Ulanga River in the steamboat in a crazy plan to crash it into a German patrol boat further downstream.
Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
I think mainly because of the movie.
Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes, it’s not that hard a read and is fairly engaging.
How did this book make your list?
I didn’t know it was a book actually, until I saw it at my LL.
Has it won any awards?
No. Although Bogart won his only Oscar for his portrayal of Allnut in the movie.
“(Men) were careless, and clumsy, and untidy. They were incapable of dusting a room or coking a joint. They were subject to fits of tantrums. Women had to devote themselves to clearing their path for them and smoothing their way. Yet at the same time it was a point of faith that these incomprehensible creatures were the lords of cration for whom nothing could be too good.” – p 138
The author of this book is the same one who wrote the Captain Hornblower series.
Having never seen this movie – I didn’t have a clue what this book was about except that it included a boat and was set in Africa. And I can see how well this novel would work as a movie when cast with Bogart and Hepburn. I’ve never read anything by Forester before and have never been interested in the Horatio Hornblower books. But I was pleasantly surprised with his narrative style – he states everything so simply but does a great job of conveying the richness of the story. I had a great view of what was going on inside both Rose and Allnut’s minds and hearts because of Forester’s gifted writing style. I felt breathless during the rapid shoot, helpless during the delta maze, and frustrated during the attack on the gunship. Overall, it was very well told and a great story.