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The African Queen

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,556 Ratings  ·  263 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!
305th out of 954 books — 5,544 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienForrest Gump by Winston GroomThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Godfather by Mario Puzo
Books made into really good movies
73rd out of 458 books — 199 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Susan
This is one of the few instances that I've liked the movie better than the book. It's still worth reading and I was surprised at the difference in the ending.
Jim
If you think the movie was good, wait until you read the book! The book was written in 1935, so while Germans were the bad guys, they weren't the villains of the 1951 movie. It made for a much better ending. (view spoiler) ...more
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

...more
Algernon
Dec 30, 2013 Algernon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
[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
Apr 08, 2010 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk-fiction
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 it was amazing
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
brian dean
Feb 01, 2009 brian dean rated it it was ok
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.
Betty
May 30, 2009 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  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
...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
Samantha Bond and Toby Jones star in a new dramatisation of C.S. Forester's classic World War 1 novel.

Set in 1915, Rose Sayer's work as a missionary comes to an abrupt end when the village she and her brother, Reverend Samuel Sayer, live in is invaded by the German army. Samuel dies of fever and Rose blames the ungodly Germans for having ground him down and frightened off the entire village.

Patriotically, but naively, Rose conceives of blowing up a German warship thus he
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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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Howard
Dec 13, 2015 Howard rated it really liked it
Re-read
Nathan
Feb 10, 2016 Nathan rated it really liked it
Fun stuff! Two very different Brits team up for a wartime adventure on an African river. The characters were quirky, a bit snarly, but lovable. I was rooting for them both the whole time, even when they were at each other's throats.
Suzanne
Nov 09, 2014 Suzanne rated it liked it
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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Rebecca
Apr 01, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
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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Susan
Jul 10, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
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
...more
Robert Palmer
Aug 17, 2015 Robert Palmer rated it it was amazing
Probably just about everyone I know has seen John Huston's film adaptation of "The African Queen " it may be one of the top flims of the last century. Huston followed the book for the most part, however he opted for a Hollywood ending. The novel is somewhat darker. Rose Sayer is a 33 year old English Women and the housekeeper of her Brother,Samuel,a missionary in central Africa,World War one has just begun and the German military has conscripted the Natives of their village and Samuel is dead.wh ...more
Bettie☯
Feb 26, 2015 Bettie☯ rated it liked it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joanne G.
Rose is the middle-aged English spinster sister of her missionary brother, Samuel. When Germans sweep through their village, everything Samuel and Rose have worked years for is destroyed in a matter of minutes: provisions are commandeered and the natives are rounded up to be used as slaves in the war. The shock kills Samuel, and Rose is left alone without someone to guide or control her for the first time in her life.

When Charlie, the gin drinking English captain of the African Queen, an old ri
...more
Judy
Aug 24, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Spuddie
I confess I've never seen the whole of this classic movie with Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, but must admit that the book wasn't at all what I expected. I have no idea how closely the movie adheres to the book. A bit corny and dated in some places (it was written in 1935, after all, and takes place in 1914) it was still an interesting story, and I'm sure was considered quite scandalous at the time it was published. High adventure and a bit of romance is what I'd call it. I guess at some ...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
...more
Jamie
May 22, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it
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
Sue
May 09, 2009 Sue rated it really liked it
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
...more
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
...more
rabbitprincess
Jul 08, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it liked it
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
...more
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
...more
Bev
Apr 06, 2013 Bev rated it really liked it
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
...more
Griselda
Dec 03, 2014 Griselda rated it it was amazing
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
Mmars
Aug 31, 2011 Mmars rated it really liked it
When picking this out at the library I was comparing editions and read that the original printing omitted the last chapters! The author was too busy with other work to realize what the publisher was doing. So if you want to read the whole book, as the author intended - don't read the 1935 version.

That said, since I'm not a movie freak, I haven't seen the movie and can judge the book on its own merits. I read it during the sweltering heat of summer and could just feel the leeches & the sleep
...more
Doris' Library
Very good read, but I liked the ending of the movie better.
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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
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