I watched the film adaptation of C.S. Forester’s The African Queen many moons ago at the recommendation of my father. I was totally engaged and enamored (how could one not love Kate and Bogey), but, as my memory for plot sucks, my recall of detail was slim. Last year, one of my loyal followers highly recommended the novel (thanks, EK!), consequently, it made the 2017 list. I expected to enjoy the journey, knowing I would be embarking on a classic tale of adventure and romance, but ended up appreciating it for so much more.
As a woman, The African Queen was an immensely inspiring novel. This “classic tale of adventure and romance” (yes, I quoted myself from two seconds ago, just go with it) is actually a badass feminist narrative reaching far beyond its classic realms. Forester did impressively well by our heroine, Rose Sayer, especially considering it was written in the 1930s, and especially considering Forester is a dude. The beauty of literature over film is its ability to reveal the inner monologue of characters, and Rose’s internal narrative is a true inspiration.
Accompanying a woman as she leaves the world where she lives in the shadow of men (and God), to one where she fully and willingly embraces her strengths and expands her comfort zone just because she freakin can, is beautiful. The added treat is the reader’s invitation to be in her head as she goes through these changes. Obviously, Rose is a fictional character, but her thoughts and heart are so incredibly palpable and relatable, she may as well be real.
The excitement of Rose and her companion’s (Charlie) journey contributes plenty to keep the reader engaged, and is well executed by Forester. Even if the novel lacked the additional layer provided by Rose’s feminist character, it would gain top marks from me. But that extra dose of heroine fierceness is what turned The African Queen into a piece of literature I will return to whenever I need some strong feminine motivation.
Rating: 4.5 Torpedos