Summary : George and Sabine move from England to live in the Beautiful Island of Trinidad in the 1950s for work. Now it’s 2006 and Sabine is feeling resentful. She’s stuck in Trinidad in the sweltering heat and political corruption. Whilst clearing out their garage, George discovers a box of letters his wife had written to the former prime minister, Eric Williams. The letters have not been sent. However George feels betrayed, insecure and guilty upon learning of his wife’s unhappiness throughout their marriage. From here forward George begins to try and make things right for his wife. But is it a little too late?
The book is separated into 4 sections. The present day (2006), 1956 when they arrived to Trinidad, 1963 & 1970. I found this book really refreshing. I enjoyed it from the very first page and was determined to read the whole book. Some parts did drag a little because you aren’t sure what to expect. There wasn’t so much of a plot, more of just an exploration of their new life as expats. I loved that the book was set in Trinidad. Although the characters were much older than me and in perhaps a different life stage I was still able to relate to their situation and feelings. I was shocked by the amount of resentment from Sabine and ‘love’ from George that was present in the relationship after all those years. I thought by your 70s your feelings would be more towards contentment rather than a continued insecurity and willing to please. And with George I thought the burning feeling he felt for his wife would have also simmered naturally.I’m not sure how realistic the portrayal of the characters in their seventies were. But it has lead me to question my perceptions of an older persons relationships. What if security, bliss and content isn’t at the end of the road? I have read a few goodreads reviews that have said the political movement was biased and portrayed negatively. Also a few shocked readers who believe this wasn’t worthy to be shortlisted for the Orange Prize. I don’t agree with either views.
- Monique Roffey writes very beautifully. You can tell a lot of thought and effort goes into her writing.
- I believe Sabine’s perspective is just that. One person’s perspective. It hasn’t lead me to form any opinion about Trinidad & Tobago’s government and politics that I didn’t have prior to reading this book. I do not think those were the authors intentions. However I can empathise with these critiques of superficiality and ignorance on Sabine’s part, if this book were set in my homeland (Jamaica), I would probably feel exactly the same too.
I will definitely be reading more from Monique Roffey when I get the chance, possibly Sun Dog. The book was a breath of fresh air and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance. I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone as there isn’t much of a plot… if any. . But for those who don’t mind books without a main plot and are interested in the Caribbean or Caribbean history I would recommend.
Here is a kink to a Podcast by Monique Roffey about the background of her novel, including her research and inspiration.
WARNING the Podcast does contain SPOILERS!!