marginalia || The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, by Monique Roffey

Abandoned for now: The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, by Monique Roffey. This one was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction this year, and I know a lot of you really love the novel — and I know I could love this novel as much. But. We haven’t been getting along. I picked up this book the third week of July, and I am only at the 140th page of this 430-something-pager. I don’t like those numbers. I especially don’t like the fact that I avert my eyes whenever I happen to glance at the spot it takes on my bookshelves.

It’s been okay, sprinkled with meh. I’m having a problem with the author’s voice, as well as the language of the storytelling. The dialogue needed getting used to — I tend to not like so much books that spell out dialect [except, of course, if it features a man in a kilt, eherm]. I like the characters, love the relationships that Roffey details, and I’m growing complex feelings about Trinidad, where the book’s set [and isn’t that the point?]. But I’ve been trying to fight the feeling that the actual story is taking place elsewhere. Yes, I’m aware of the form in which Roffey crafted this story — and this risk with the form actually makes me giddy. I guess I mean that the novel refuses to stay with me. Or, rather, it refuses to be with me at all. Augh, I don’t know.

I’m at that point in my life — snerk, the drama! Aherm. I don’t have as much free time as I once did, what with the new job and all, and I suppose it’s as good a point as any to learn to set aside some books when the going gets tough. [Yes, I am compulsive book-finisher. I don’t like loose bibliophilic ends.] I can always return to those books later, when I feel like it. And I think I’ll feel like it with Roffey. But right now, no, it’s just not making me happy. I don’t want it to feel like a chore, that I’m just slogging through for the sake of it. Because a part of me still thinks that somewhere in all that Meh is a story, and I do want to get to that.

Just not now. So. Until later, Sabine.

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16 comments

  1. I do hope you pick it up again when you’re ready. I had trouble getting into the dialect at first (the same reason I’ve abandoned Kathryn Stockett’s The Help for now), but (minor spoiler) when The White Woman on the Green Bicycle jumps backward in time to when they first arrived in Trinidad, I was blown away and the novel really began to shine for me. The dialect is gone, and the characters use formal, proper English. I hope you enjoy it whenever the time is right for you!

    1. Thanks, Carrie. I’m waiting for that jump backward in time, actually. I saw the Table of Contents, and wanted to get to that part immediately. But it’s just been a bog, really. I am heartened by the fact that phonetic-dialect thing tapers off. Someday, I’m sure, someday!

  2. I never want to give up on books either, but sometimes… well you just have to. I’m sure you’ll come back to it when the time is right. Good luck with fitting reading in with the new job and everything. I compulsively check your blog these days cause I really love your reviews and the fact that it’s introduced me to a lot of new authors, so I hope you still are able to make time to update :)

    1. Hi, Zoe. Thank you so much. I’m more worried about not reading, actually, haha. I’ve gotten so used to this process of from-book-to-blog, that whenever posting isn’t as regular, it usually means I’m not reading as much. Oh well, we’ll see. I’ll definitely be around. :]

  3. I am hovering around page 163 in my current read. I am actually loving the book, but don’t have any time as of late, so the going has been slow. Hopefully you will have better luck with the next one.

    1. Can’t wait for your review, then — at this rate, having “abandoned” it for the meantime, I’m ambivalent about picking it up again. Thanks, Nicole!

  4. Yours is the second review I’ve read where the reader has given up on this book. That’s enough to put it towards the bottom of my Orange Shortlist reading pile!

    1. Glad to be of service? Haha, I did enjoy Lorrie Moore’s novel, even though a lot of people didn’t like that: Time will tell if I pick this up again.

  5. Suejustbooks · · Reply

    When I was in London and had limited space in my luggage, this is one of the few books I purchased since I knew it wasn’t available in the US. I haven’t started it yet but I thought you did a great job articulating why I just might move in down on the TBR.

    1. I’m kind of relieved that I’m not the only one who feels the same way. I’m still planning on going back to it. I just don’t know when, really.

  6. I’ve got a new theory for abandoning books – you might like it a lot better when you pick it up next time. If you force yourself to read it when the mood’s not right, you may ruin it forever!

    1. That’s happened to me several times, actually. And I think deciding to abandon Roffey at this point, a part of me wants it to work too. Time will tell, though, as to when I go back to it.

  7. I actually got this book from the publisher contest a while back, but it’s been sitting on my shelf. I have no desire to pick it up. O well.

    1. I won it from a Twitter giveaway held by the book’s editor. Sigh. I wanted to read it — why else would I join the contest, right? But now, well, there.

  8. I’ve read more meh reviews about this book than I’ve read reviews who said they loved it. I was hoping to love it though, because I like the title a lot. It was one of the few orange prize listed titles that I felt I wanted to read.

    1. Who knows — maybe when I pick it up again, and end up liking it, I could change your mind? Or, well, if I don’t like it then, that’ll cement it, haha. Oh well.

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