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.
Seamlessly integrating political issues involving race, colonialism, and the legacy of slavery with the more personal conflicts that Sabine and George experience in their marriage, Roffey crafts a novel whose epic scope - the action spans 50 years and is broken down into temporal sections: 2006, 1956, 1963, and 1970 - belies its intimate perspective. (Reviewed by Marnie Colton).
Heart-rending and thought-provoking, you will never again see the Caribbean as just another holiday destination.
The Guardian (UK)
A rich and highly engaging novel.
Financial Times (UK)
[Roffey's] plot engages the reader through a gradual revelation of the past - slowly forming a melancholy whole.
The Times (UK)
Roffey's evocation of Trinidad is extraordinarily vivid, the central relationship beautifully observed... deservedly short-listed for the Orange Prize.
The Sunday Telegraph (UK)
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.
The Independent (UK)
[A] brilliant, brutal study of a marriage overcast by too much mutual compromise.
London Evening Standard (UK)
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.
In 1956, Americans were getting their first taste of Trinidad's unique contribution to music in the form of Harry Belafonte's infectious crossover hit, "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)." A brief fervor for all things calypso followed, resulting in such nutty fare as tough guy actor Robert Mitchum's album, Calypso - Is Like So... (1957), and kitschy B movie Bop Girl Goes Calypso (1957). Although Belafonte may have been known as the King of Calypso in the United States (a claim to fame never made for Mitchum), Trinidadians revered serious performers like Lord Kitchener, Sir Lancelot, and the Mighty Sparrow, and for them, calypso symbolized much more than barbecue background music.
This gorgeous first novel is the deeply moving story of one woman, Nazneen, born in a Bangladeshi village and transported to London at age eighteen to enter into an arranged marriage.
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