ABOUT THE BOOK: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 . . .
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The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies is a 2015 Penguin publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and the LIbraryThing early reviewer program.
The Tea Planter’s Wife is an exemplary novel, written with a lush literary prose, which pulls me deep into the landscape and historical setting of colonial Ceylan.
Gwen, only nineteen, marries Laurence, a widower, after a whirlwind romance. Laurence is a tea planter running a successful plantation, and Gwen is determined to learn the business and be a good asset to her husband.
However, almost from the beginning, Gwen finds her husband is still haunted by the death of his first wife, the staff behaves oddly, and then Gwen finds she must cope with her sister-in-law, Verity, who wishes to keep Laurence all to herself, as well as watching another woman try to steal away her new husband.
If this were not bad enough, Gwen will soon face a crisis that will tear her heart to pieces while the atmosphere around her becomes almost oppressive.
This story is so absorbing and haunting, I couldn’t bear to continue reading it, but couldn’t stop turning pages. This book taps every emotion imaginable, as Gwen tries to navigate her new surroundings and faces one wall of opposition after another, one trial after another, while carrying a heavy burden on her heart.
I became frustrated with all the characters at one point or another, and Verity is most certainly a poisonous character, but I often found myself irritated with Laurence, who constantly turned a blind eye to those issues plaguing Gwen and the people causing her such great heartache.
This couple will encounter incredible adversity, survive hardships, and endure much heartache, make mistakes and harbor dark secrets in their souls. Naturally, the racial divide is one which causes so many misunderstandings, and it is so very sad to think how this situation could have turned out differently if not for that prejudice.
But, ultimately this is a love story, one that proves love’s power to overcome vindictiveness, jealously, grief and pain, and can give the heart the fortitude to forgive, accept, change, and move on with renewed hope.
This is a well written novel, with very interesting historical details, set in a magical location, and is packed with riveting dramas that kept me engaged and very invested in the characters on an emotional level.
I loved the atmosphere in this one, the slight Gothic tones, and the tantalizing pace that swept me away to another time and place.
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