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 Jefferies was an atmopsheric, charming tale full of romance, adventure and life-changing decisions.The story really transports you into early 20th century Ceylon, and you really feel like you’re there with Gwen and the household. Jefferies creates a world full of intrigue and mystery, which is incredibly exotic and alien to very English Gwen. There’s a lot which is unexplained, and which we find out more about as the novel goes on, and I really enjoyed reading about this.
There are parts of the story which are very romantic and even a little over-sentimental, as Gwen harps on about Lawrence, the love of her life, but that adds to the charm of her as a character. She’s really sweet but at the same time pretty fierce and never afraid to stand up for what’s right (well, most of the time…!) even when everyone around her was telling her to behave a certain way. Though I didn’t agree with every decision she made, no one knows exactly how they’d react in a certain situation and she was a really cool character- someone I think I would have liked to be friends with, had I been alive then! Lawrence was also a well-crafted, interesting husband for Gwen, though he had his own faults, which helped make him more human.
I think Dinah Jefferies has done a great job of creating a range of convincing characters which you want to read more about. There are both sad and happy, slow and exciting, parts to the story but it was always enjoyable to read.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a little escapism, but with added drama and intrigue. I’ve always wanted to visit Sri Lanka and this novel only reinforced this even more!
Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
Have you read The Tea Planter’s Wife? What did you think?