Book review: River Queens, by Alexander Watson

Watson, Alexander. River Queens: saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America. Orange Frazer Press. 2018. $27.95. 320p. Hardcover. ISBN 978-1939710-857

River Queens is a moving and memorable memoir from Alexander Watson, a self-made boater who took a circuitous route to finding his second home on the water. On the surface level, this book is an adventure tale about a couple of men approaching middle age who find excitement and a welcome change via a new restoration project: a wooden boat (which they rechristen Betty Jane) in need of lots of love. After two years of getting her shipshape, they set out on a watery journey (with their spotted dog, Doris Faye). On a deeper level, this book is about how people are not always what they seem and that great friendships and connections can be found in the most unlikely places. Throughout this book, Alexander and his partner Dale learn about themselves, their relationship, and what they can handle. As they float along muddy river waters, they encounter a different slice of America and seem to enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to get to know people who call these rivers home.

This book is an agreeable read, one that you can flow easily in and out of and still get the drift of. The dialogue does a good job of capturing the language and culture that Dale and Alexander encounter on their journey, and descriptive details throughout help to paint a clear picture of what they witnessed on their adventure. Another interesting element of this memoir is how Watson weaved in some of his personal history with his family, using that additional narrative to reveal how he got to his unusual place upon the river. All in all, River Queens should be a good addition to any library looking for an inspiring and unique memoir for their collection.

Kelly Jones

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