Wednesday 15 June 2011

White Woman on the Green Bicycle

Finished June 15
White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey
This is a wonderful book that follows the lives of a British man, George, and his wife, Sabine. They came to Trinidad in 1956, where he would work, as many did, in a shipping company as a clerk, on a three-year contract.
The book begins in 2006, when Sabine has resigned herself to living in Trinidad for the rest of her life. Her daughter, Pascale, has married locally, and her son Sebastian works in England. George does freelance writing for the local paper. When George discovers one of her long kept secrets, he is driven to take new risks in his life, in an effort to revive their relationship. This section occupies the major part of the book. We see events from both George and Sabine's viewpoint.
In the next section, the book moves back to 1956 when the couple arrived in Trinidad. From her on, we see things from Sabine's view only. She has brought with her a green bicycle and she bicycles all over Port of Spain and the surrounding area on it. She is a legend, but she doesn't realize it right away. Also in 1956, the young Eric Williams is beginning to speak out for home rule. Sabine's wanderings take her to one of his speeches and she is fascinated. We see how she fought to be her own person and fought against the seduction of the island that had already captured George.
The book follows through other major events in 1963, culminating in the riots of 1970 when the family almost left. Throughout, Sabine rages against the island and studies it, and finds that she has become part of it, whether she likes it or not. This is a story of modern-day colonialism and the struggle of a developing country to find its own voice. Sabine belongs here and yet she will never belong. This is both her home and her prison. And, as the white woman on the green bicycle, she makes one final stand for what she believes is right.
A fascinating book that tells a unique story.


  1. This book will count toward my Global Reading Challenge for North America.