Friday, 18 March 2011

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

by Monique Roffey

In 1956, the young couple arrives to Trinidad from England. He falls in love with the island. She hates it. His secrets are outdoors. Her secrets are inside.

I like the premise and I loved the book. It could have been great, perfect even. But I found a few things quite irritating. The (chronologically) last part comes first, the beginning and the rest of the story later. Although these are arguably the better read (no doubt, because of the first-person narrative), one may wonder what’s the point of reading when we know how it all ends. (Tragic, that’s how.) Perhaps the structure makes it easier to gloss over the 36-year gap between the last and the first parts?

Also, the word “steupsed” is used far too often. I reckon by its third appearance in the book the reader should get that Trinidadians do it a lot.
‘How old are, you, Venus?’
‘Twenteh.’
Five years younger than me. But she could have been any age. Eighteen, thirty-five.
‘Do you live far?’
‘Just up so, in Paramin. I walk there. I does like to tek a walk. It good fuh de blood system. Good to keep slim.’
‘I ride my bicycle.’
‘I see you, Miss. Everybody know you already.’
‘Who?’
‘Everybody. I tell dem I go fine a job with de white lady on de green bicycle. Nobody believe meh. But is true. I see you ride pas’ every day. With de basket in front.’
I blushed.
‘You is famus, Miss.’
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle: A Novel

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