#18 The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

4 Mar
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle - Monique Roffey

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey

Goodreads rating: 3.41/5 (1,100+ ratings)

My rating: 6/10

First Published: April 20th, 2010 by  Pocket Books

Genre: Modern Fiction

Set in Trinidad, switching between the 2000’s and the late 1950’s to early 1970’s, The White Woman on the Green Bicycle explores racism, politics, marriage and injustice. Sabine and George Harwood move to Trinidad in the late 50’s after George’s company sends him there for work. Originally only meant to be a 3 year thing, Sabine grins and bears it through those years, although often expresses to George how much she wants to return to England. Promotion after promotion for George results in the Harwoods starting a family in Trinidad, and staying around for a lot longer than 3 years.

The first part of the book is set in current times, when George & Sabine are in their 70s. It displays what the country has done to them, both as individuals and a couple, and it’s not pretty. Sabine is clearly depressed, sad and lonely; George a philandering, rum loving man.

The rest of this novel goes back to when the couple arrived in Trinidad in the late 1950’s, and how a Dr Eric Williams takes over the country as Prime Minister, and Sabine’s mind. From living in a tiny apartment, to owning lots of land in Trinidad and having multiple maids and help. And to the downfall of Eric Williams, and the high racial tension and hate of the white people living on the island.

It took me a while to get into this book. Towards the end of the first third is when it started to get interesting, and the chapters about them arriving in Trinidad and the beginning of their lives there were captivating. It’s a place I’d never actually thought much about and I enjoyed reading about it. The fact that the author was born in Trinidad (educated in the UK) adds validity to the novel and the experiences these ex-pats would have had, especially considering Roffey says this book ‘blends family biography with a lot of fiction’.

None of the main characters are very likeable, except for the maids. Although Sabine is a bit of a miserable woman, I found myself feeling very sorry for her and her situation, particularly towards the end. She hates this country and wants to leave, but is forever trapped.

I think at just over 450 pages it was too long. Many chapters dragged on for me and I think it would have been a much better book had it been 50 – 70 pages shorter.

Overall this was a decent book, and had some interesting ideas and stories. I think that many of the story-lines in the first part of the book weren’t fully explained or closed off, which was disappointing.


3 Responses to “#18 The White Woman on the Green Bicycle – Monique Roffey”

  1. A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff March 5, 2013 at 2:02 am #

    I also thought this book was a little too long but I loved the colourful descriptions of the setting.


  1. WWW Wednesday | books are the best - March 6, 2013

    […] I just finished The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. Here’s my review. […]

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