Monique Roffey's Orange Prize-shortlisted novel is a gripping portrait of postcolonialism that stands among great works by Caribbean writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Andrea Levy. Read more...
Monique Roffey's Orange Prize-shortlisted novel is a gripping portrait of postcolonialism that stands among great works by Caribbean writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Andrea Levy.
When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England, George is immediately seduced by the beguiling island, while Sabine feels isolated, heat-fatigued, and ill-at-ease. As they adapt to new circumstances, their marriage endures for better or worse, despite growing political unrest and racial tensions that affect their daily lives. But when George finds a cache of letters that Sabine has hidden from him, the discovery sets off a devastating series of consequences as other secrets begin to emerge.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-03-28
- Reviewer: Staff
A newly independent Trinidad offers a rich backdrop for Roffey's evocative exploration of life in a tropical paradise rife with conflict. Sabine and George Harwood come to Trinidad from England with vastly different expectations: for Sabine, it is a blessedly limited three-year stint undertaken purely to advance her husband's career; for George it is an open-ended opportunity to break out of his dreary British life. The author depicts divergent worlds in a country with a long colonial history: the considerable wealth, luxuriant estates, and country clubs for the wealthy foreign-born, and the dilapidated shacks with no running water for the servant class. The island itself—seductive, mysterious, unpredictable—provides a challenging environment that exacerbates the tension between George and Sabine, and acts as incubator for the political unrest that brews when the young nation's new leader, Eric Williams, cannot come through on his many promises. With its unique structure—beginning with George's perspective in 2006, then switching to Sabine's unsent letters from their early days on the island—Roffey reveals how each experienced Trinidad so differently and offers a resonant account of how both Harwoods succumb to a place that is part paradise and part hell. (May)