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The African Queen

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  4,388 ratings  ·  209 reviews
A classic story of adventure and romance - the novel that inspired the legendary movie starring Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart

A fast-moving tale and a very good yarn...Mr Forester again and again proves himself a master of suspense - New York Times Book Review

As World War I reaches the heart of the African jungle, Charlie Allnutt and Rose Sayer, a dishevelled trader
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 30th 1984 by Back Bay Books (first published 1935)
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Forrest Gump by Winston GroomThe Devil Wears Prada by Lauren WeisbergerJurassic Park by Michael CrichtonJumanji by Chris Van AllsburgMary Poppins by P.L. Travers
I Only Watched the Movie!
298th out of 846 books — 4,739 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienForrest Gump by Winston GroomThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Godfather by Mario PuzoHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Books made into really good movies
73rd out of 405 books — 155 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Algernon
[7/10]
The launch hardly seemed worthy of her grandiloquent name of African Queen . She was squat, flat-bottomed, and thirty feet long. Her paint was peeling off her, and she reeked of decay. A tattered awning roofed in six feet of the stern; amidships stood the engine and boiler, with the stumpy funnel reaching up just higher than the awning.

Two people are thrown together into this derelict boat by the fortunes of war. It is 1914 and the events in Europe are echoed in the middle of Africa as t
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Nancy Oakes
If you do a quick scan through reviews for this book, quite a number of them read something like this:

...this is one case where the movie was better.
...I should have just stuck with the movie and not bothered with the book
...The book pales in comparison with the movie
...and so on

That's all fine and well. Yes, the movie is excellent. Yes, books brought to life are often much more interesting than the original work itself. But can't books just be reviewed on their own, without having to compare th
...more
Ed
Oct 04, 2013 Ed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adventure fans
Recommended to Ed by: Saw the movie.
I really got into this wartime adventure romance even if it is sometimes on the corny side. I saw the Bogart and Hepburn movie version years ago, and I don't remember enough if it faithfully follows the novel. Rose Sayer, the thirty-three-year-old missionary's sister, is a tough heroine, sort of an early twentieth-century Laura Croft with a British accent. She and Charlie Allnutt make a great pair of protagonists in their far-fetched mission to take out the German warship on the African lake. Th ...more
Betty
May 30, 2009 Betty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes adventure
The African Queen by C.S. Forester

What can I really say about the book The African Queen that isn’t already well-known as an award-winning movie? Originally published in 1935, this exceptional book was fairly closely reproduced in the movie in 1951 with relatively minor changes, the most obvious being that the main male character, Charlie Allnutt, was (and is) written as a Cockney character, whereas Humphrey Bogart, who played the role, was unable to carry this accent off and the character was r
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Carol
This 1935 classic is a wonderful old-fashioned love story full of adventure and suspense. Set deep in the African jungle with WWI about to break loose, prim and proper missionary Rosie Sayer and scruffy trader Charlie Allnut, an unlikely pair to say the least, escape down the Ulanga River in his old beat-up boat The African Queen to escape the Germans.

While enduring infestations of biting flies, masses of mosquitos, bouts of malaria and flying bullets to boot, Rosie and Charlie fall in love and

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brian dean
The only example I can think of where the movie is, hands down, better than the book.

Forrester can describe boats and nautical stuff better than anyone but he cannot write romance at all.
La Petite Américaine
The African Queen is one of those few ass-kicking novels that comes along and reminds me that there is the occasional sparkling gem of classic genius buried beneath the massive dung heap of contemporary fiction.

Don't read this book to find the movie in written form. The book and the movie are two different things. The film features Katharine Hepburn in varying states of gorgeous as she travels wild-eyed down a river with the inimitable Humphrey Bogart in an opposites-attract love story. The nov
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Suzanne
This falls somewhere around a 2.50 for me.

I liked the movie better, although it was a very long time ago I saw it. Parts of the book, particularly the arc of Rose’s character development, seemed highly unlikely. In ten days she goes from a repressed spinster and a woman completely subservient to men all her life, especially her minister brother, to an assertive, take-charge type who’s discovered her sensual side, completely forgetting her upbringing and conditioning of 33 years.

There was also
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Susan
What a good book! Once I sat down and really started reading, I was sucked in to Africa in 1914 and could not put it down.

World War I has just started and Rose Sayer's brother, Samuel, has just died of a combination of malaria and having his mission ransacked by the German Central African army. Missionaries from Britain, their mission is now basically extinct, as all their local recruits have been swept up by the Germans.

Enter Charlie Allnutt on his little boat, the African Queen. What follows
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Judy
I decided to read the book before revisiting the classic film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. It is set in central Africa during the First World War, where missionary Rose Sayer is left on her own following the death of her brother, Samuel. Cockney mechanic Charlie Allnut rescues her from the approaching Germans and the two of them set off on an impossibly daring journey down river aboard his boat, the African Queen. They decide to launch their own attack on a German gunboat, eve ...more
Misfit
The basic set up:

Missionary Rose Sayer is left high and dry after the Germans kill the villagers and her brother Samuel. Cockney boat owner Charley Allnut lets her ride along with him on his creaky old boat and Rose gets the brilliant idea to use the explosives on the boat to torpedo the Königin Luise and convinces Allnut to go along with it. Why he goes along with this is any one's best guess (I was sure scratching my head over it). But to get to that point, they must travel the river, avoidin
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Jamie
The African Queen is a romantic adventure by C.S. Forester. It's one for all to read and enjoy. His descriptive details of the African jungle makes you believe you are in the story along with the main characters, Allnut and Rose. Their struggles down river to find the German enemy are rigid. With every twist and turn of the river, comes another problem for the two. They crash and fix their boat with limited supplies in the heat of the jungle. They have to deal with the problems of the outdoors: ...more
Rebecca
I'd always loved the Horatio Hornblower books; separately, I loved the Bogart/Hepburn film The African Queen. I had no idea that the latter was based on a book by the author of the former.

The majority of this book is charming. At the same time, it's an adventure tale and a romance. Rose the missionary's sister is a passionate, ingenious, and courageous woman who always smothered her own spirit in service to her brother's dreams. Allnut is a bit lazy, a bit of a coward, and not all that bright. I
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Sue
May 09, 2009 Sue rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
I have mixed feelings about this book, but overall I enjoyed it. It is set during the First World War, and as such the narative drills home the attitudes toward women of the time (weaker sex, subject to the authority of any man, etc.). However, the lead female character breaks out of that mould on a regular basis, which makes the story not only tolerable but inspirational.

The writing is so vivid that it was easy to visualize the exotic scenes, and the characters so fleshed out that you really c
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Corinne
Have you seen the movie, the one with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart? I remember watching it with my mom several times when I was younger, so when I saw a fabulous old version at a used book sale, I grabbed it.

Rose is the adult sister of a Christian missionary. She's been in Africa for years, working alongside her brother as his housekeeper and companion. Allnut is a man-of-all-work, engineer and "captain" of the tiny boat The African Queen. When the German army has conscripted all their
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rabbitprincess
Jul 08, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who have seen the movie and/or who like adventures
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: the movie
Shelves: bibliotheque, 2012
* * * 1/2

The First World War has broken out, and the German forces are collecting all of their troops in German East Africa and seizing as many supplies within that territory as possible. This puts a significant dent in missionary Samuel's ability to minister to the local population. In despair, he eventually succumbs to a fever, leaving his sister, Rose, on her own except for the Cockney ship captain, Charlie Allnutt, who delivers their mail. Rose, furious with the Germans for indirectly killin
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Tweety
I have not been this disappointed by an author I liked in a Long, Long time

Warning, I have a spoiler below that I don't intend to hide

Forester created a magnificent adventure, a roaring river, beautiful waterfalls and a run-down old boat called The Africa Queen. I wanted the best for Allnutt and Rose. I really did. But I didn't want them to be immoral! I cant finish it, not if they are to keep on as they are. Okay, so they make a mistake I understand. But why make it sound like what they did was
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Bev Hankins
It seemed absurd that there was nothing two people with a boat full of explosives could do to an enemy in whose midst they found themselves, and yet so it appeared. (pp. 22-3)


In 1935 C. S. Forester published his World War I adventure story, The African Queen. It begins with missionaries, Samuel and Rose Sayer (brother & sister), deep in Central Africa (Tanzania). They have been working diligently with the African people for ten years when WWI begins and the Germans come and conscript the vi
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Griselda
I read this years ago and have just picked it up again. Given that I normally read nineteenth century novels where the most daring thing a girl can get up to is a bit of knitting, my enjoyment of it came as a surprise. Like Rose, I found Allnutt 'not my type' and irritating to begin with and, like Rose, I grew to love him as the trip down the river progressed. But, as C.S. Forester points out, 'whether they lived happily ever after is not easily decided'. This might just have been the holiday ro ...more
Realini
The African Queen by C. S. Forester
This is one of the most incredible and extraordinary tales I have ever seen or heard…a story of valor, love and extraordinary resilience-
A couple of people, passed the young age attacks a German boat in the middle of…Africa!!

What an amazing action packed story!
I have seen the famous movie with the giants Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, directed by the wonderful John Huston. Not only that, but I have even read about the making of the movie- with the cast
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Jeff Fuchs
An hour ago, I was mentally preparing to come here and proclaim the book to be at least as good as the movie... Then I read the ending. Wow. Even if you'd never seen the movie, the end of The African Queen would leave you wanting.

I won't post any spoilers, but I will say that the ending of the book was totally different from that of the movie, and very unsatisfying.

The most notable surprise in the book was Rose's character. Unlike Katherine Hepburn's version, Rose quickly shed yoke of religion
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Amy
I thought that The African Queen was a story about the male-female relationship. It was a story about how when men and women work together (as seen between Rose and Charlie) the two genders are at their best. When there is partnership and equality the couple can overcome powerful odds. But when one leads and the other follows (as seen between Rose and Samuel), no one benefits. The river that Charlie and Rose travel seems to be a metaphor for life, and Rose and Charlie navigate it together and as ...more
Mahmoud
Some authors have the gift of putting words together in a way that entertains and enthralls the reader. C. S. Forester is one of the best. When Forester tells a story, the reader feels personally involved. We feel like we know the characters in a personal, intense way. If you have read Forester's Hornblower novels, you have read Forester at his best. The African Queen was made into a memorable movie starring Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. The book is more intense, darker, and far less tr ...more
Rick Davis
The book is always better than the movie.

Except when it's not.

This is one of those exceedingly rare cases (the only other that immediately comes to mind is "Blade Runner") where the movie is far better than the book. There were some gripping action sequences, but the main focus of the plot, the human interaction, falls flat. I never believed in either of the characters or their motivations. I find it very hard to believe that a girl like Rose could live with her missionary brother for so long an
...more
Lois
I was definitely helped getting thru this by both the short length of it and the images of Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn from the movie of the same name, in my head as Charlie Allnut and Rosie Sayer. Haven't seen the movie in a long time, so I can't tell if it was very different from the book, except for a few parts that I do remember. Quite a story, still, with the two of them alone on a boat in the middle of the African jungle, fighting off mosquitoes, flies and malaria, besides the he ...more
Kimberlyhdm
Thanks to my Goodreads Buddy Fred C, I finally paid attention to this wonderful adventure. The descriptions of the action (rapids, swamps, DIY boat repair are so compelling. The ending was a little anti-climatic, but I enjoyed this more than the great Hollywood version.
Sandy
Wonderful adventure and love story. The book ends differently than the movie, and to me is the only real flaw. It is 1914 in German Central Africa and WW1 is in full swing. Rose is the prim missionary's sister whom fate throws together with Charles Allnut, the cockney mechanic of the African Queen. Rose, in a patriotic furor decides she and Allnut will use the African Queen to blow up a German gunship. Forester does a wonderful job of depicting Rose and Allnut's treacherous, grueling, backbreaki ...more
Sandi
A good listen but not what I had expected. I thought there would be more humor but this was really a straight ahead adventure. The audio version was read by Michael Kitchen who kept the pace lively.
Amanda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Turner
Reread this after seeing the movie again. A number of reviewers like the movie better than the book, and one pleas that we judge each on its own merits. I almost always like the book better, because I think that often filmmakers make changes for no good reason. In this case, they were very faithful to the characters (the strength of both stories) and to the basic plot, but made the ending happier. The book's ending is more realistic. But since the story is about an impossible quest, and the char ...more
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Cecil Scott Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith, an English novelist who rose to fame with tales of adventure and military crusades. His most notable works were the 11-book Horatio Hornblower series, about naval warfare during the Napoleonic era, and The African Queen (1935; filmed in 1951 by John Huston). His novels A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours were jointly awarded t ...more
More about C.S. Forester...
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #1) Lieutenant Hornblower (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #2) Beat to Quarters (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #6) Hornblower and the Hotspur (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #3) Hornblower and the Atropos (Hornblower Saga: Chronological Order, #5)

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