Green Bicycle

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

Short-listed for the Orange Prize, 2010

This is my second novel. It took about twenty years in the thinking and mulling over and two and a half years in the writing. I wrote it between January 2006 and June 2008, and I made about six trips to Trinidad in that time. In 2006, Trinidad’s football team, the Soca Warriors qualified for the World Cup. It was an interesting time to be in Trinidad, what with such optimism in the air and yet a Big Brother type surveillance ‘blimp’ circling Port of Spain. In 2010 this novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and has sold around the world. I’m pleased about this because for such a small island, Trinidad is rich in natural beauty and artistic talent and deserves to be well known.

In the 1950s, my mother used to ride around Trinidad on her green Raleigh bicycle. She told me the story once, when I was chopping vegetables, and it was an image which stuck. The novel blends some family biography with a lot of fiction – and has an ingenious back-to-front plot. I’ve been very cheeky, using boisterous, opinionated real life Trinidadians as cameo characters in the plot: the everyman in the form of Clock and La Pompey and Trinidad’s supermen, in the form of Brian Lara, the Mighty Sparrow and Eric Williams. I wasn’t too enamoured with the Prime Minister at the time, Patrick Manning (now departed from office). I’m afraid I was rather rude about him. Never mind. It’s a writer’s job to push the boundaries and sometimes even to name names.

The Mighty Sparrow

The Mighty Sparrow as a young man

Here are some of the reviews:

From the UK

Roffey’s evocation of Trinidad is extraordinary vivid, the central relationship beautifully observed... deservedly short-listed for the Orange Prize”
Kate Saunders, The Times

A rich and highly engaging novel”
The Guardian

Equal love and attention go into the marriage and the country at the heart of this Orange Prize short-listed novel…It’s a book packed with meaty themes, from racism to corruption to passion and loyalty”
Seven, The Sunday Telegraph

Roffey’s Orange Prize nominated book is a brilliant, brutal study of a marriage overcast by too much mutual compromise”
The Independent

Monique Roffey’s superb novel shatters Caribbean clichés by depicting the explosive tensions of post-colonial Trinidad with fierce affection”

A searing account of the bitter disappointment suffered by Trinidadians on securing their independence from British colonial rule and of the mixed feelings felt by a white couple who decide to stay on. An earthy, full-blooded piece of writing, steaming with West Indian heat”
The London Evening Standard

…her plot engages the reader through a gradual revelation of the past – slowly forming a melancholy whole”
Financial Times

Heart-rending and thought-provoking. You’ll never see the Caribbean as just another holiday destination”

A beautiful, moving and haunting book”
Edinburgh Evening News

A sharply observed and engrossing portrait of a marriage and a country”
Books Quarterly, Waterstones

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle is a love story wrapped in Trinidad’s political drama. Secrets from a decades-long relationship are revealed as the husband reads his wife’s undelivered letters to Eric Williams, the charismatic leader of the island nation in its infancy”
Pride magazine

From its opening pages, I was entranced by the world of this novel. Monique Roffey’s Trinidad is full of strife and languor, violence and also hushed moments of peace, so beautifully and lushly evoked that while I was reading Trinidad became more real for me than my own neighborhood. What a vibrant, provocative, satisfying novel–I can’t stop thinking about it”
Suzanne Berne, Orange Prize winner

This is a powerful, juicy novel about the tragedy of Trinidad, one of the most beautiful places on earth. English George blindly loves it, his French wife Sabine bears its burdens of white guilt, the new black political class fails it, and violence is the inevitable result. Personal, political, physical – you feel you’ve been there”
Carole Angier, biographer, Jean Rhys

From Trinidad and the Caribbean

In eloquent, sometimes poetic, always passionate prose, Roffey paints an intriguing and sometimes disturbing picture of Trinidad in the turbulent post-colonial era. Roffey leads unerringly into the dark areas of slavery’s shadow: when racism begets racism, it’s time for the hard questions, and this riveting story of a marriage as it crash-lands asks them fearlessly”
Sharon Maas, Caribbean Beat.

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle is more than just fantasy and entertainment. Behind all this fun, Roffey, ambitiously, has done something remarkable. She manages to deal with all the major social problems besetting contemporary Trinidad in recent years via the prism of two characters who feel at odds with the environment”
Andre Bagoo, Caribbean Review of Books

…breaks entirely new ground. It is a major contribution to the new wave of Caribbean writing: energetic, uncompromising, bold in the choice of narrative devices and a great read”
Olive Senior, Commonwealth Prize winner

The Age of Innocence in West Indian fiction is over…..Roffey captures Trini irreverence perfectly”
Simon Lee, The Trinidad Guardian

…daring to speak about an unraveling as it happens…”
Cedriann J. Martin, The Trinidad Express

Roffey undertakes an examination of the Trinidad & Tobago’s Independence Movement and, a generation later, its bitter fruit. ….A millennial portrait of a new republic, WWOGB is a harsh judgment on the failure of the independence experiment”
Lisa-Allen Agostini, co-editor, Trinidad Noir

Vibrant and vivid; passionate and true. This is a powerful tropical mix; a compassionate book that needed to be written“
Amanda Smyth, author, Black Rock

From Australia

Days after reading it, I can still smell Trinidad”
Sunday Telegraph

…and epic and strikingly original love story set in hot, steamy Trinidad”
Australian Women’s Weekly

This unforgettable love story will enchant the reader”
Daily Liberal

..a charming tale that succeeds on many levels with a cast of whimsical characters, atmosphere, intrigue and a jolt of sweet and sour themes”
Courier Mail

With great characters and a unique story, she draws an intriguing portrait of a marriage that resonates, yes, long after the last page is turned”
Sunday Times

Roffey creates a terrific sense of place: heat and languor, politics and passion, tropical smells and the heady music of the local patois, all combine to make the novel memorable”
The Age

Roffey combines a wonderful sense of place – heat, languor, tropical scents and patois – with politics and passion for a remarkable read”
Sunday Tasmanian