23 August 2009

"A high tale of adventure"

34. The African Queen by C. S. Forester (4/5)

The small hardcover edition, this particular one republished in 1940, has been sitting on my shelf for years. I've seen the movie numerous times and didn't give much thought to the book.

It's really good though, and is as the cover proclaims "a high tale of adventure." Which I admit doesn't seem likely when the bulk of the story involves only two characters: Rose Sayer and Charlie Allnut. Forester's characters are well-drawn with depth and history that doesn't always come across in the film. The transformations that occur to them during their journey are a pleasure to read. I was impressed with his depiction of Rose, her strength and determination and fearlessness, which seemed to me both authentic and unusual in a story from that period.

Though the story takes place in 1914 and the book was first published in 1935, the writing didn't seem all that dated to me. However, storytelling-wise Rose is a washed up spinster at 33 (a couple years younger than I am) which got to me a bit. Nonetheless, Forester's descriptions of Africa make up for it as they really put you there with his characters and the perils they face.

The ending and some other details differ from the film's narrative, but I still enjoyed it.

A year ago on TTaT: Inspired, PIP...

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