George and Sabine Harwood are the latest European exports to arrive in a country which is trying to shake itself free from its colonial past. They are unwanted. Sabine instantly acknowledges the foreignness of this new land and its huge cultural weight pressing down on her.
Later, she directs her keen observational eye towards Eric Williams, the new leader of Trinidad, writing him hundreds of unsent letters. These letters express her growing resentment and feelings of indeed being surrounded by the personified, even glorified, woman of Trinidad.
Conversely, her husband George falls irrevocably in love; Trinidad quickly becoming the ‘other woman’ in his relationship with his wife. His unrelenting worship of all things Trinidadian, the land, its climate and its women, increasingly isolate the already lonely Sabine.
As the years pass, the overwhelming heat wears away at Sabine, her love for her husband slowly evaporating in the sun. Yet, she is held there, flitting between intense hatred and genuine love and concern for Trinidad.
The green bicycle offers Sabine one of her few pleasures. Riding around the island she discovers another side of Trinidad, of an island united with a shared revolutionary voice, unintentionally enthralling Sabine. This voice however doesn’t captivate George in the same way, as he chooses to remain blissfully unaware of problems outside of his conceived paradise.
Sabine instead becomes deeply involved with following the political developments of the PNM. It is not until years after their arrival that George desperately attempts to understand his wife’s history, and opens his eyes to the Trinidad Sabine has always seen.
Monique Roffey’s novel starts at the end. That is to say, it begins in Trinidad in 2006, jumping back to 1956, with the novel then continuing chronologically. This structure brilliantly provides the reader with the gift of hindsight, allowing for a clearer perspective on the events later narrated.
It is a tale which will embed Trinidad into the consciousness of its readers, offering something real; real love, real loss and discovery. Powerfully told, Trinidad is vibrantly conjured and appreciated. A book I wanted to begin again once I had finished.
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle is available at Amazon for £3.99