The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

Orange January/July

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The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

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1rainpebble
Jul 6, 2011, 11:18am

I didn't see a thread for this Orange finalist (of 2010, I believe) so I thought I would make one.

2rainpebble
Edited: Jul 28, 2011, 11:36pm

I was ready for a 'knock your sox off' book when I began "The White Woman on the Green Bicycle". I didn't find it to be so. The story takes place in the racially political years of Trinidad and is about a couple who move there from England "for three years" in a job related transfer for the husband. He falls in love with Trinidad, she....not so much.
The story is plotted out in three sections. The first section; the early days .... their move and the wife slowly realizing that chances are pretty good their three years is going to turn into more. She becomes very disillusioned with their lives, the island and her husband. But she has their children and a busy life so she accepts the situation.
The second section; the ending days .... their children are grown and the couple are now in their seventies and still in Trinidad. The wife has become complacent and yet angry at the same time with her husband. She knows they will never leave Trinidad and will die there. The end of this section is the end of the story but not the book.
The third section; the middle years is the real meat of the story and comes at the back of the book. So much happens in this part of the story. The political unrest becomes an unbearable violence toward the whites and Trinidad is now a very dangerous place to be living. The couple both have secrets from one another. He is unfaithful with many women though he adores his wife and she has a secret correspondence (which she never mails off to him) with the Prime Minister or whatever they call the leader of the country. When the husband finds this, he feels even more betrayed than she does when she realizes that he is sleeping with other women.
For me the best part of the story was the interactions of the characters with their servants and the one servant's family. I cared more about them than I did the main characters.
I would not say that this was not a good book, but I think it could have been so much better. All of the concepts are there, the characters are there....they just needed to be drawn out more clearly and be more who they were. Like I said the strong characters were the servants. I won't read this one again and I am very surprised that it got as far as it did on the Orange list.

My first disappointment with an ORANGE. ;-)

belva

I have had to reassess my reading and rating of this book. It has now been 22 days since I read it and I can't get the damned book out of my head. So I know there is more that got into my pea brain than I realized immediately afterward. I WILL read it again one day and I had to go back and change my 3 1/2 star rating to a 4 star rating. Does that ever happen to any of the rest of you; that you just cannot let a book go or it won't let you go?

3BiblioEva
Jul 7, 2011, 6:32pm

Unlike you, I really loved this one! (I blogged about it: http://astripedarmchair.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/white-woman-on-the-green-bicycl...) I can see why it's not for everyone, though.

4rainpebble
Jul 7, 2011, 11:16pm

I am glad that you liked The White Woman on the Green Bicycle. I really wanted to but just wasn't my cup of tea I guess. I liked the minor characters but could not bring myself to care about the majors.
Your review was very good however.

5BiblioEva
Jul 9, 2011, 8:49pm

Fair enough! I'm not sure that I *liked* many of the characters, but I did find them fascinating. ;)

6Soupdragon
Jul 10, 2011, 4:39am

Oh, this book seems to provoke such diverse reactions! I did have it filed in my mental "don't go there" list but after reading Eva's review I am wondering if I should give it at try. I will now file it in my "if I see it cheap at a charity shop" list. This is a very long list which is partly why I buy so many books and have such a ridiculous TBR!

7BiblioEva
Jul 10, 2011, 6:07am

Dee, you could give the first chapter a try! (Not the prologue: it doesn't match in tone to the rest of the book.) I instantly connected with it, so it's probably a good indication of your reaction to it as a whole. I peep into books via Amazon a lot. ;)

8Soupdragon
Jul 10, 2011, 6:36am

Oh yes, good idea Eva! I do that a lot too. I can usually tell from the first few pages of writing whether a book is right for me or not.

9BiblioEva
Jul 10, 2011, 2:58pm

Hope it helps you decide! I'm always curious when one book elicites a ton of different reactions by different readers. :)

10rainpebble
Jul 29, 2011, 2:06am

I have had to reassess my reading and rating of this book. It has now been 22 days since I read it and I can't get the damned book out of my head. So I know there is more that got into my pea brain than I realized immediately afterward. I WILL read it again one day and I had to go back and change my 3 1/2 star rating to a 4 star rating. Does that ever happen to any of the rest of you; that you just cannot let a book go or it won't let you go?
belva

11BiblioEva
Jul 31, 2011, 5:11pm

Yep! I've definitely had books that stick with, and demand me to re-assess what I thought of them (The Little Stranger was one). I love that: I think it's a sign of a great book! :)