Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

I felt so comfortable reading this book.  The words flowed on the page into my head and it just seemed right.  I've never been to Trinidad, though I did live on the island of St. Vincent a few hundred miles to the north.  While very different countries, some of the lifestyle and politics appeared familiar. 

In 1956 newly weds George and Sabine Harwood emigrate to Trinidad after George receives a promotion.  He immediately falls in love with the island while Sabine can't wait to return to England.  As the three year contract gets extended and extended again, their family grows and they collect a circle of friends, build a house and buy beach property.  George keeps his work life separate from Sabine.  He quickly finds his way there and never intends to leave, even taking Trinidadian citizenship without discussing it with his wife.  In an attempt to fit in and get to know the country, Sabine rides her green bicycle everywhere that she can pedal to.  In a short time she becomes widely knows as 'the white woman on the green bicycle'.  Somewhere in those early years she starts a letterwriting affair with Eric Williams, then prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

I loved every minute of this book.  It read so true to what I had experienced and seen my parents go through while they lived on St. Vincent.  My dad fit right into the community of business men.  My mother took tea with the other expatriate wives.  They wore their fancy clothes to evening parties and smiled as their children learned to speak the local dialects.   Monique Roffey has captured the lives of these transplants perfectly. 

I am looking forward to sharing this book with my family to see if it meshes with their memories of living in the Caribbean.  I've inlcuded a clip of the Mighty Sparrow, a true Trinidad legend.

Dr. Eric Williams - Caribbean Perspectives
Mighty Sparrow - Amie Street
Ship photograph from
Breadfruit -
Green bicycle - Lovely Bicycle Blog

More reviews:
Jill at The Orange Project
Jodie at Book Gazing


Teddy Rose said...

Wow, this book sounds amazing and I love the title. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

Felicity Grace Terry said...

Another book on my wish list, thanks for your thoughts. See my reviews of 3 of the orange prize nominated books tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.