The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey
This was an intriguing cover and the title was equally so. And as it turned out, the plot of this novel had lots of points with which I could identify. It is a novel but actual facts and real-life situations aren’t far away. The couple are white – the husband is English, the wife from the South of France. They go out from London to Trinidad for the husband’s job. It’s a 3 year contract. From day one, the husband falls in love with the country. The wife is not quite so enamoured. And so it goes on with underlying currents of racism, belonging/not belonging, colonialism, political corruption, slavery and its aftermath, the rise of black power, two people who love each other but want to go in different directions, and so on.
There were a few echoes of our experiences in St. Lucia in the 1970’s. A different island, a different history. It was a happy time for our family. No issues of violence or racism so far as I was aware. What was more of a problem was the heat and the monotony of the climate. But it was a wonderful existence with 3 little boys and outdoor living and daily trips to the beach and the local swimming pool at Holiday Inn.
The couple in The White Woman on the Green Bicycle reminded me a bit of the couple in Paul Scott’s novel Staying On. A couple who elected to stay on after India gained Independence. Perhaps the couple in The White Woman on the Green Bicycle should not have stayed on – in fact it’s quite clear that they should have left but when they tried to leave they were not able to get to the departing ship in time – the ship sailed without them.