A week of Orange Wednesdays: The white woman on the green bicycle (Roffey)
I spotted The white woman on the green bicycle in the library on Monday. I didn't connect it with the Orange prize as it was on the new books shelf, but I knew I'd seen it mentioned a lot in the blogosphere recently, and Claire from Paperback reader confirmed that it was indeed on the longlist. It hadn't initially appealed, but the intriguing title, and mentions on blogs, and the fact that it was a new book were enough to convince me to take it out.
The vividly evoked Trinidad setting provides the background for the story of Sabine and George, a couple who moved there in the 1950s, among the last colonials to settle there. Whilst George has found it easy to acclimitise to his new life, Sabine hasn't, struggling with the heat, the lack of friends and family, and the racial segregation. We meet the couple much later on, in 2006, when George discovers a cache of letters that Sabine has written, but not sent, to Eric Williams, a politician who is trying to rescue Trinidad from colonial rule. The letters reveal Sabine's frustrations with the country, and with their marriage, and George is stunned. The book cleverly works back through the past to build up a picture of their lives up until that point, piecing together their story.
My favourite part of the book was the second part, when Sabine and George arrive in Trinidad. The culture shock is immense, and not knowing the country/period at all, witnessing Sabine's attempts to learn about life there was hugely interesting.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read, and I liked, as I've often said, having the opportunity to read a book set in a different environment to those that I would normally choose to read, but this one didn't have the star quality in terms of either plot or writing that my favourites from the Orange longlist have had. Having said that, I am really glad that it made it onto the list or it is another book that might have just passed me by, and I shall certainly look out for more by Monique Roffey
I hope you've enjoyed my week of Orange longlisted posts - I've now reviewed 7 of the longlisted titles, which with the 5 I'd read already means I've read 12 of the 20 titles. The only one I'd still really like to read is The Lacuna. Anyway, I will be hugely interested to see what titles are shortlisted! I'd love to see Hearts and Minds, This is how and The still point there. I suspect that The little stranger may well make an appearance and probably Wolf Hall.
I love books, baking and my boyfriend, and love to write about the first two. I particular love "forgotten" books, books brought out of obscurity by republication and those still languishing in obscurity. I'm currently reading my way through all of the Virago Modern Classics, but taking in other books along the way.