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The White Woman on the Green Bicycle: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, April 26, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143119516
  • ASIN: B005MWL73K
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,259,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Engaging. . . . A firebomb of a book, revealing a slowly disintegrating marriage, a country betrayed and a searing racism that erupts in terrible violence. . . . This is a stunning book, and its depiction of an aspect of Caribbean life is well worth contemplating."
-The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Roffey's explorations of longtime marriages, race, and the lingering effects of colonialism are insightful and often painful to read. . . . The true main character in this novel is Trinidad itself: its people, its customs, and its contradictions."
-Nancy Pearl, National Public Radio

"Few novels capture the postcolonial culture with such searing honesty as this Caribbean story told through the alternating viewpoints of a white British couple over the last 50 years. . . . The pitch-perfect voices capture the colonials' racism and sense of entitlement."
-Booklist

"A rich and highly engaging novel."
-The Guardian

"Roffey's evocation of Trinidad is extraordinarily vivid, the central relationship beautifully observed... deservedly short-listed for the Orange Prize."
-Kate Saunders, The Times (London)

"Heart-rending and thought-provoking, you will never again see the Caribbean as just another holiday destination."
-Elle Magazine

"Equal love and attention go into the marriage and the country at the heart of this Orange Prize short-listed novel... It's a book packed with meaty themes, from racism to corruption to passion and loyalty."
-Seven, The Sunday Telegraph

"Roffey's Orange Prize nominated book is a brilliant, brutal study of a marriage overcast by too much mutual compromise."
-The Independent

"A searing account of the bitter disappointment suffered by Trinidadians on securing their independence from British colonial rule and of the mixed feelings felt by a white couple who decide to stay on. An earthy, full-blooded piece of writing, steaming with West Indian heat."
-London Evening Standard

"[Roffey's] plot engages the reader through a gradual revelation of the past - slowly forming a melancholy whole."
-Financial Times

"Monique Roffey is a writer of verve, vibrancy and compassion, and her work is always a joy to read."
-Sarah Hall

About the Author

Monique Roffey was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and educated in the United Kingdom. Her first novel, Sun Dog, garnered universal acclaim from critics and readers alike. She lives in London.

Customer Reviews

It's hard to put down once you've started reading.
Barbara Shepherd
Sabine becomes very interested in the new political leader who give hope to the natives in Trinidad that big changes are coming.
Teddy
Engagingly written, with a mixture of history and fiction.
Barbara Paul, Landscape Design

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle tells a story in four parts. The first takes place in 2006. Written in the third person, it introduces the reader to a married couple, George and Sabine Harwood, both age 75. Originally from the UK, they have lived in Trinidad for fifty years. Their maid's son, Talbot, has been beaten by the local police for complaining about an officer's theft of his cell phone. George, a feature writer for a Trinidadian newspaper, resolves to help Talbot. The three parts of the novel that follow are written in the first person from Sabine's perspective. The first begins in 1956 when George and Sabine are fresh off the boat, George having accepted a three year employment contract. Like the European architecture the colonialists have imported to the island, Sabine is "hopelessly at odds with her environment." She resolves to stick it out and soon attains fame as the white woman who rides everywhere on her green bicycle. The novel continues to tell Sabine's story in a section that begins in 1963, when Trinidad is on the verge of independence. The final section takes place in 1970, when dissatisfaction with the island's governance has produced an empowerment movement that expresses itself in violence.

Sabine is a contradictory character. She loves her husband (sometimes) and hates him (sometimes); her animosity toward him oddly increases her passion for him. Sabine is jealous of Trinidad; she fears (probably correctly) that George loves the country more than he loves her. She feels empathy for the plight of Trinidadians living in squalor but at the same time is often frightened of them. She always feels like an outsider, a feeling that is encouraged by Trinidadian resentment of white colonialism. She bonds with her black servants while encouraging them to feel oppressed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Beverly Jackson VINE VOICE on June 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey is a multi-layered story of love and betrayal between a man and a woman, a man and a country, and a country and a politician. January, 1956 is a pivotal year for newlyweds, Sabine and George Hayward, and the island of Trinidad. Sabine and George have just arrived in Trinidad for a three-year job stint, as many other white men, hoping to enjoy a higher standard of living and position that was not attainable in England. Instantly, George falls in love with the island; after all he has the status of his work and being a white Englishman in a British colony. Sabine's initial reaction is how can she put up with the heat for three years, and without much of a support system feels even more isolated and tormented as no one will explain the protocol of all of the unwritten rules regarding the genders, the races, and the classes. So she takes to exploring the island on her green bicycle, oblivious to everyone's reaction to her exploring. Meanwhile, a charismatic intellect, Eric Williams, has formed the People's National Movement (PNM) fueling political unrest speaking to the chokehold of colonialism on Trinidad. The events of 1956 have an influence upon Sabine and George, and all that follows evolves from that point.

The structure of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle divides the story into four time periods, 2006, 1956, 1963, and 1970. And, the book actually begins with the 2006 section, which is at the end of Sabine's and George's life together, and many years after the independence movement. It opens on a violent strained period in both the marriage and the political climate in Trinidad.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bluestalking Reader VINE VOICE on May 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
George and Sabine came to Trinidad as newlyweds in the first blush of love. George loved the island instantly, seeing the true potential there, the beauty of the island, the as-yet undeveloped land, the possibility life here would be easier and more laid-back than in his native Britain. He could foresee a future here, one promising to be very lucrative.

Sabine hated it the minute she arrived, the heat hitting her like a blast furnace. She sensed immediately white people were looked upon with suspicion, ignored to their faces but talked about behind their backs. To help deal with it she rode her green bike everywhere on the island, dressed in skimpy halter tops and shorts. Without realizing it she'd become a sensation, the talk of the island, the beautiful white woman who pushed all boundaries.

Supporting what George saw as Sabine's paranoia, Eric Williams, a native Trinidadian educated in Britain, came back from his university education in England full of rage at what he believed the Europeans were doing to his country. Charismatic and well-spoken, he began to incite unrest. As the years went by the islanders fell more and more under his spell, growing more and more frustrated. Despite herself, Sabine becomes obsessed with him, drinking in his words, agreeing with him in spirit, knowing they had no business being there and longing to leave.

As the years passed. Sabine's misery grew. George answered by joining the local country club, mingling with local society, throwing parties everyone who was anyone attended. None of it alleviated Sabine's despair. As their fortune rose, Sabine's spirits sank. Meanwhile, tension on the island continued to grow.
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