Tag Archives: love

#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.

-H-

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#12 Paint It Black – Janet Fitch

23 Jan
Paint it Black - Janet Fitch

Paint it Black – Janet Fitch

Goodreads rating: 3.4 (5,700+ ratings)

My rating: 3/10

Why it’s on the list: I’ve had this book for a few years, and i’ve started it about 3 times and have never got further than the first chapter, so finally decided i’ll finish it.

First published: September 18th, 2006 by Little, Brown & Co.

Genre: Modern Fiction

What a depressing book! By the end of it, I felt so down. Long, dragging story short – Josie Tyrrell is in love with a guy called Michael, and he kills himself by shooting himself in the head in a motel in the Californian desert. Of course, a terrible thing to happen, and Josie is obviously depressed.

That’s basically it… she and Michael’s famous pianist mum Meredith clash, and then become friends, and then fight, and are then friends. Josie does some drugs here and there, smokes a certain type of cigarette, wears some ratty clothes and does some acting. She eventually visits the motel where Michael killed himself… aaand that’s really about it.

Paint it Black was such a drag to get through, and it had promise. It’s written by the writer of White Oleander, which although I haven’t read the book, I have seen and enjoyed the movie. This story could have been great, but it wasn’t and I don’t recommend reading it

Fitch said in an Amazon.com blog “Paint It Black started as a gothic little short story, which became the emotional core of the book, like a secret windowless room at the heart of a haunted mansion. Then I built outwards from that room, into the outer life of the book, until I finally got the beginning, and then the ending, which is the doorway out, into the sun.” 

I really think it should’ve stayed a gothic little short story, rather than expanding it into a long-winded novel.

Oh and also, I don’t know if anyone else ever feels like a book isn’t set in the right city, but this one was set in LA and really should’ve been set in London.

-H-

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