Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother.
But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss.
Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . .
The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries
Published by: Penguin (September 13, 2016)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Buy Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Opinions expressed are mine.
Set in Ceylon on a tea plantation in the 1920-30s, The Tea Planter’s Wife, by Dinah Jeffries offers not only a story of love and secrets but an interwoven history of the struggles between the Sinhalese (majority) and Tamil (minority) peoples, which later grew into a civil war lasting many years.
Jeffries, in my opinion, captures the lush environment, the colorful garments of the locals, the resentments between family members (her own and the plantation staff and field workers), as well as the degree of tension felt on many levels. Not unlike the tensions of the civil rights movement in our own country, the young wife is caught off guard many times in her hope of helping the plantation workers with health issues, food scarcity, and more.
Most fascinating, again in my opinion, was the lesson brought to light by Jeffries in the dangers and hurts created by well-kept secrets, especially among family. I could tell you a great deal about the book and what I’m referring to here, but to do so would show too much.
The characters were all likable, most of the time, and even those who behaved badly were likable to the extent you often wanted the best for them.
Once I turned the first page, my interest was captured and I couldn’t put The Tea Planter’s Wife aside until it was finished.
I highly recommend to readers who enjoy historical fiction set in this time period and in an area of our world not often written about. Clearly, this author researched well and wrote about Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, in a way that was intriguing and made me want to read more.
I was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine.
As a teenager I missed the heat of Malaysia, which left me with a kind of restlessness that led to quite an unusual life. I went to live in Tuscany where I worked as an au pair for an Italian countess, and there was even a time when I lived with a rock band in a ‘hippie’ commune in Suffolk.
In 1985, the death of my fourteen year old son changed everything. Although it was the darkest of times and I will always miss him, I’m grateful for the years we had together, and I now draw on the experience of loss in my writing. I set my books abroad and aim to infuse the love and loss with the extremely seductive beauty of the East.
My second novel, The Tea Planter’s Wife, is out now and it’s a Richard & Judy Book Club Autumn pick as well as being in the Sunday Times Bestselling list. And that’s something I’m absolutely delighted about. Book three, The Silk Merchants Daughter, will be published in Spring 2016.. All my novels are published in the UK/Commonwealth by Penguin/Viking.
Although my husband and I spent five wonderful years living in a small 16th Century village in Northern Andalusia, I’m happy to say we now live close to our family in Gloucestershire .
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