Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley: Review

Timothy Findley's Not Wanted On the Voyage is his interpretation of the Bible tale Noah's Ark. What do I know about Noah's Ark? God told him to put all the animals of the Earth on the boat two by two. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights. All the bad people died. Then the Ark got hooked up on a mountain. The End. Yes, I'm a biblical scholar.

Findley's telling is not quite like that. Noah Noyes is a tyrant. A nasty, nasty guy. He's awful to his wife and bullies everyone in the family. You either toe line or you'll face the consequences. Mrs Noyes copes by keeping her mouth shut and drinking too much. She also finds comfort in her talking cat Mottyl.

Noah's claim to fame is his best buddy, God. They've been friends a long time but God is tired and old. He's fed up with people in general who are jerks- making soup out of their fellow men and what-not. So God gets this idea to end it all and the Grand Finale is The Flood.

That's when things go pear shaped. Noah gets meaner and the family divides itself into the doers (the ones who do what Noah says) and the thinkers (the ones who question him). A mysterious woman appears and attaches herself to Ham, one of the sons. She's not quite what she seems.

There are things I liked about Not Wanted on the Voyage. The story was imaginative well written but there were things that didn't float my boat. I felt at times overwhelmed by the symbolism. It was if Findley was saying, "Let me dazzle you with my metaphors. Let me beat you over the head with my imagery." I expected violence (this is the end of the world tale) but there are some graphic and disturbing scenes that were even too much for me. And then there was the ending; I still don't get it.

I know that people are ga-ga for Not Wanted on the Voyage but I can't say I'm one of them. I'm not giving up on Findley though. His talent is enough to tempt me to reading more.

Read for The 3rd Canadian Reading Challenge.


  1. I know that I can't get all that interested in this book... I have tried a couple times!

  2. I really didn't like the Wars by him and didn't think I'd give Findley another chance. However, when I'd read the synopsis of this one (back when it was a Canada Reads contender), I was compelled enough to give him another shot. I got a chapter in and lost the book. I've since repurchased it, but haven't bothered getting to it yet. Your review didn't bump it up my priority list.

  3. Kailana- Yeah, it's a hard book to wrap your head around.

    John- So I won't put The Wars on my list to try then.

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  5. This almost sounds like one of the fairy tale re-dos which I'm not crazy about. Not sure if this one's for me or not.

  6. I laughed out loud when you said there were things in it that "didn't float your boat." Way to keep on topic!!

    Too bad this wasn't for you! Doesn't sound like my book either.

  7. This sounds good. I'll have to pick it up.

  8. Strangely someone recommended this book to me only yesterday. I said at the time it didn't sound like my cup of tea and after reading your review, I think I was right!

  9. Kathy- It's definitely a redo!

    Rebecca- hehe, I wondered if anyone would notice that.

    JT- Hope you like it.

    Michelle- It's a bit strange.

  10. I have to confess that I'm one of the people who is "ga-ga" over this book. It's probably been 10 or 15 years since I read it, and I devoured it in a day. I must get my hands on a copy and re-read it to see if it is still just as good.

    I've not read The Wars, but some more accessible Findley books that I've read are The Piano Man's Daughter and You Went Away. I also enjoyed Pilgrim, but it was a bit strange...


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