When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England George instantly takes to their new life, but Sabine feels isolated, heat-fatigued, and ill at ease with the racial segregation and the imminent dawning of a new era. Her only solace is her growing fixation with Eric Williams, the charismatic leader of Trinidad's new national party, to whom she pours out all her hopes and fears for the future in letters that she never brings herself to send. As the years progress, George and Sabine's marriage endures for better or worse. When George discovers Sabine's cache of letters, he realises just how many secrets she's kept from him - and he from her - over the decades. And he is seized by an urgent, desperate need to prove his love for her, with tragic consequences...
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Monique Roffey is an award winning Trinidadian-born British writer. She has written four novels and a memoir. Three of her novels are set in the Caribbean and form a loose trilogy which engages with political and environmental issues in the region. The most recent of these Caribbean novels is House of Ashes, published in July 2014. Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Sans Amen, it tells the story of three characters, a gunman, a hostage and a boy soldier caught up in a botched coup d'etat. Archipelago, published in 2012, is both an epic sea voyage and an examination of climate change from the point of view of a man from the southern Caribbean. It won the OCM BOCAS Prize for Caribbean Literature in 2013. The judges commended it for its 'exploration of the greater Caribbean space in which is embedded a real-life story of trauma and loss and ultimately redemption that is both contemporary and compelling'. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, a story that maps the creolisation of a colonial couple during the early Independence years in Trinidad, received widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2010 and the Encore prize 2011. Her erotic memoir, With the Kisses of his Mouth was published in 2011 to much praise and controversy and was reviewed in the Guardian as 'a subversive work that transcends the author's personal story: it stands alone in the chasm that has opened between feminist literature and the belles du jour brigade'. Roffey has a PhD in Creative Writing and teaches regularly for The Arvon Foundation and the Writer's Lab in Skyros. She is a member of the action group Carib-Lit and teaches and runs workshops regularly in Trinidad too. She divides her time equally between London and Port of Spain. Find out more at http://www.moniqueroffey.co.ukReview:
"Engaging. . . . A firebomb of a book, revealing a slowly disintegrating marriage, a country betrayed and a searing racism that erupts in terrible violence. . . . This is a stunning book, and its depiction of an aspect of Caribbean life is well worth contemplating."
-The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Roffey's explorations of longtime marriages, race, and the lingering effects of colonialism are insightful and often painful to read. . . . The true main character in this novel is Trinidad itself: its people, its customs, and its contradictions."
-Nancy Pearl, National Public Radio
"Few novels capture the postcolonial culture with such searing honesty as this Caribbean story told through the alternating viewpoints of a white British couple over the last 50 years. . . . The pitch-perfect voices capture the colonials' racism and sense of entitlement."
"A rich and highly engaging novel."
"Roffey's evocation of Trinidad is extraordinarily vivid, the central relationship beautifully observed... deservedly short-listed for the Orange Prize."
-Kate Saunders, The Times (London)
"Heart-rending and thought-provoking, you will never again see the Caribbean as just another holiday destination."
"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."
"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."
-London Evening Standard
"[Roffey's] plot engages the reader through a gradual revelation of the past - slowly forming a melancholy whole."
"Monique Roffey is a writer of verve, vibrancy and compassion, and her work is always a joy to read."
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