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August 7, 2017


The African Queen

by N@ncy



1. Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
a. Name of gin-swilling Charlie Allnutt’s steamboat that ferries supplies to villages in Africa.

2. Where does the primary action take place?
a. September 1914 in German East Africa

3. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
a. German troops burn down Rev Sam Sayer’s mission and he dies.
b. His sister Rose Sayer leaves by the only available transport:
c. the dilapidated river steamboat ‘African Queen’ of grumpy Charlie Allnutt
d. Rose is determined to do her bit for the British war effort.
e. She suggests that Charlie construct their
f. own torpedo and launch it with the converted steamboat.

4. Who are the main characters?
a. Charlie: free-spirited libertine; drunk; loner.
b. Rose: well-educated, snobbish; head-strong; bossy; devout tea-teetotaller

5.What is the conflict that  confronts the leading character(s)?
a. external – adventure: attempt to outfox WWI  Forces and sink the warship Louisa
b. internal – romance: Rose and Charlie confront their feelings  for each other

6. How is the conflict resolved?
No spoilers

7. Does this story create any special mood?
a. Setting: the lush jungle green landscape which surrounds the Rose and Charlie  is the novel’s most iconic image. Charlie and Rose pulling the celebrated “African Queen” through the twisted, overwhelming jungle vines of the Ulanga River.

b. Action: I was mesmerized by Forester’s telling of the perilous descent through the raging rapids, swirling colors of the water,  green and at times black, ripples of current warning of a hidden obstacle in the water. The rising action leading to the ultimate climax shooting a torpedo from a rickety old boat aimed at the Louisa was riveting….even though I knew what was going to happen!

8. How do the main characters change?
a. Charlie free-spirited libertine, drunk and a loner…not avid for responsibility (ch 2).
b. Change: Simplistic
c. Charlie had a fierce recklessness and a flame of fanatical patriotism. (ch 13)

d. Rose: well-educated, snobbish, head-strong, bossy, devout tea-teetotaller.
e. She would not allow herself to show weakness.
f. She shut her mouth like a trap into its usual hardline. (ch 2)
g. Change: Complex, psychological
h. Rose comes to terms with her Victorian religious rigidity.
i. She had sinned, lain with a man and enjoyed it.
j. Rose and Charlie were man and wife even if the did not conform to rites and regulations.
k. Her bowed figure in the starlight […] there was no trace of the iron-nerved woman now.
l. In the weeping figure who asked God for forgiveness of her neglect. (ch 13)



  1. This book was made into a movie in 1951.
  2. It was my mother’s all-time favorite.
  3. We watched it  together a zillion times.
  4. I know the story  by heart!
  5. Now I thought it would be interesting to read the book.
  6. Just for old times sake….
  7. Strong point: is the combination of two narratives:
  8. Romance:  how this odd couple finally fall in love.
  9. Adventure: journey down the unpredictable river to sink a German warship
  10. Strong point: the book was able to spark my imagination.
  11. Mud, stench of decaying marshes, clouds of blood hungry insects,
  12. the whining of  mosquitoes…I could go on and on.
  13. Ulanga River with raging rapids , swamps and leeches!
  14. I dreaded reading about the scores of leeches  clinging to Allnutt’s  skin.
  15. The images in the movie still make me shiver.
  16. But in the book the scene took no more than 3 paragraphs on one page!
  17. I gave a sigh of relief.
  18. Strong point: Forester reveals how much
  19. Rose’s Victorian religious upbringing influenced her life.
  20. I didn’t notice this at all in Hepburn’s role in the movie.
  21. This book surpassed all my expectations.
  22. The book was just as good as the movie!
  23. I enjoyed it  more than a few Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners!

Last thoughts:

  1. If you have not read this book…put it on your TBR list!
  2. If you have not seen the movie….don’t delay, it is truly a classic!
  3. The African Queen is rollocking good
  4. …adventure story of tackling insurmountable odds.
  5. #MustRead
  6. #MustSee
  7. #MustListen6 hr  24 minutes  narrated by Michael Kitchen.



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18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 7 2017

    Great review, Nancy. I haven’t seen the film (except for a few snatches) or read the book.


    • Aug 7 2017

      Oh, if you get the chance….the book and move are wonderful!
      K. Hepburn is magnificent as the snobby English missionary’s sister!
      Thank you for RT…..on Twitter!


  2. Aug 7 2017

    Because I’m a Hepburn fan, I know I’ve watched this movie at some point, I just don’t remember much about it.
    Glad you enjoyed your trip down memory lane 🙂


    • Aug 7 2017

      It was as if mom was sitting next to me again with a big bowl of popcorn!
      Hepburn is from Connecticut (…as I am) and she had a beautiful home on the the shoreline.
      I still miss her wonderful performances. Luckily we have moives to look at!
      I’m still pondering the Aug 13 th Reading Quest ( inventive bingo card)….do you have the time and energy to join?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aug 12 2017

        It all depends on how my Sunday pans out!


  3. Aug 7 2017

    I’ve never read the book, but have seen the film many times. Hate the leeches scene “Oh…. those devils!” *shudder* Then, when he resignedly climbs back overboard to “tow” some more. Heroic. Favorite is the scene where the fall asleep, exhausted, stuck in the mud and the camera zooms out to show just how close they are to Lake Victoria. And then the rains came… 🙂


    • Aug 7 2017

      As I read your comments….I can see the movie scenes in my mind!
      The book gives you more feeling for the waters…the rapids…the marshes, the vines….the insects. I would recommend the audio book 100%…for a summer relax read/listen!
      Thanks for you comments, Jay!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh what a lovely review and memory of how many times you’ve seen the movie thanks to your mother’s love of it, it reminds me of reading Pat Conroy’s essays on his Reading Life and him being dragged to the cinema countless times by his mother to see Gone With the Wind, he dedicates an entire chapter to it in fact. I don’t know if I’ve seen this movie or not, it looks familiar, but thanks for the recommendation and I’m so glad the book lived up to expectations, and of course why not!


    • Aug 7 2017

      It is such a joy to relive the ‘fun I had with a mother who would not go to the movies with me’!
      So we compromised….and watched her favorites on TV.
      She liked Patton with G.C. Scott. I think she could remember what he was like during WW II.
      Thanks for you comments, Claire!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can kind of relate, I will drop my daughter off, but can’t go see what she is into, I mean horror and gore and frightening stuff, that she thinks is comedy. And yes, she does therefore sometimes stay at home and watch the kind of thing I like, you know like The Queen of Katwe, Once, realistic dramas based on true stories. 🙂 What movies were you trying to lure your mother to see?


  5. Aug 7 2017

    My mum was a big Katherine Hepburn fan and has banged on about this film for years – yet somehow I’ve never seen it nor read the book! So on the back of your review I have a book AND a film to look forward to!!


    • Aug 7 2017

      Listen to your mother….and watch the movie!
      PS European Champions 2017 … girls soccer….The Dutch! #Booya !


      • Aug 8 2017

        I will. And we did watch the final as well as the semi – Dutch were best team in both by some distance!!


  6. Aug 7 2017

    Claire….movie like Topkapi (P. Ustinov), Dr. Strangelove (G.S. Scott, P. Sellers), Breakfast at Tiffany’s or a musical ‘My Fair Lady”….great classic movies…but she would have none of it!
    Luckily I went to the movies with my sister and my best friend, Kathy.


  7. Aug 8 2017

    Col, I agree. I watched in amazement at the technially strong playing Dutch girls.
    Dazzling fancy footwork, precision ‘assists’ and a tremendously inventive free kick (2 Dutch girls approach the ball ….one fakes her moves and the other scores the goal while the Danish keeper looked stunned! Poetry in motion!



Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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