#BookReview: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Reviewer: Annie

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

the Tea Planters WifeSummary:

Dinah Jefferies’ unforgettable new novel, The Tea Planter’s Wife is a haunting, tender portrait of a woman forced to choose between her duty as a wife and her instinct as a mother…

Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper steps off a steamer in Ceylon full of optimism, eager to join her new husband. But the man who greets her at the tea plantation is not the same one she fell in love with in London.

Distant and brooding, Laurence spends long days wrapped up in his work, leaving his young bride to explore the plantation alone. It’s a place filled with clues to the past – locked doors, a yellowed wedding dress in a dusty trunk, an overgrown grave hidden in the grounds, far too small for an adult…

Gwen soon falls pregnant and her husband is overjoyed, but she has little time to celebrate. In the delivery room the new mother is faced with a terrible choice, one she knows no one in her upper class set will understand – least of all Laurence. Forced to bury a secret at the heart of her marriage, Gwen is more isolated than ever. When the time comes, how will her husband ever understand what she has done?

The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.

Review:

When 19 year-old, Gwen Hooper leaves the comfort of her family and home in England, to take a boat to Ceylon to move in with the husband she recently married, she truly believes she met the man of her dreams. In England; where they met and married, he certainly was just that. Would arriving in his homeland of Ceylon have him change his ways? Is he still the same man that will only look at her through eyes of love?

He is a 37 year-old Widow and Tea Plantation owner, Laurence Hooper. It is all quite exciting when he first picks her up at a hotel on the docks, and they see each other for the first time. This story is about their relationship with each other, their family, their friends and their employees….and, of course, their business in general. It becomes a story of them trying to find themselves and each other, after a huge secret hovers over their marriage…threatening to be the end of them.

I took my first break, and realized I had already read 150 pages. Obviously, I was drawn in!

It was no surprise that Dinah Jefferies brought the full landscape of Ceylon in the 1920’s to life on paper. She has a delicious gift of painting the landscape with her words…you can see, smell and feel all that surrounds the backdrop of this “you will not put this down” Historical Fiction. She achieved the same wonderment in her last book, “The Separation”.

What an intoxicating place Ceylon is, beginning with their home on the plantation. When Gwen took a walk on the grounds, I felt like I was walking alongside her. As the book stated “In the Land of Cinnamon and Jasmine”….I mean, that sounds so touchingly beautiful. Dinah Jefferies really “takes you there” on all of their walks, swimming trips, picnics, events, dinners, drives to Colombo (the big city where the boats come in and Tea Trade takes place) You will find yourself “googling” images of things, like the local animals meandering about that I had never heard of. (I did)

I know this is an Historical Fiction, but I was still impressed with her knowledge of the political angst surrounding the Tea Farmers, their Workers, and others in 1920’s Ceylon. Dinah Jefferies wrote about the racism beginning to wrap Ceylon in to its mesh with a lot of heart. Racism was at an all-time high at this time in Ceylon, and this book brought all of it front and center. Will this have any effect on the lives of the Hooper’s?

There are so many secrets, and so much pain and loss…betrayal, jealousy and guilt weave themselves among all of the characters. This is a story that will capture your heart right away!

Will they make it through all of the stories they don’t easily share with one another? Or, will this be a move that Gwen never should have made? Join us, and help us root for Gwen and Laurence.

5 Stars.


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