Friday, July 22, 2016
"The Tea Planter's Wife: A Novel" by Dinah Jefferies
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 . . . ~taken from Goodreads
"The Tea Planter's Wife" was such an enjoyable read! Dinah Jefferies filled the entire book with quality, descriptive writing to create a stunning historical drama. This story is based around a British family living on their tea plantation in the 1920s British colony of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Jefferies' writing is full of detail and description while describing both the characters and the exotic settings.
If you follow my blog you know I love historical fiction novels. This novel, in particular, wasn't my normal era of historical fiction reads. I tend to stick to U.S. and U.K. settings pre, during, and after WWII. I wasn't at all familiar with 1920s Ceylon or the history that surrounded this area in regards to British rule during that time. Reading this story, I found myself swept up in history and scenery that Jefferies lays out for us. I had no problem imagining the character's dress, the plantation's architecture, the country's cultures, and the land's animals, vegetation, lakes and waterfalls.
The problems and mysteries enveloped throughout the story are timeless. The issues dealt with could very well be relevant in our modern world. The way certain character's inner thoughts and dialog went along with the problems they were facing felt true and real. The book flowed nicely, not too fast and not too slow. It is broken down into 4 parts, each part ending in a new plot twist. I did feel that the end was a bit sudden and abrupt and would have loved an epilogue for 10-20 years later in life.
I liked reading the author's acknowledgements and appreciated all she did to learn about the Sri Lanka tea trade during that time in history. Actually visiting the land written about in the story made the writing even more vivacious and detailed. I think without the author's knowledge and the extensive homework she did prior and during writing, this book wouldn't have felt so authentic. This was my first novel by Dinah Jefferies, but her talent for writing is impeccable and enjoyable. I look forward to reading her other books.
All in all, The Tea Planter's Wife is an elegant, mysterious, deeply-moving novel. A 5-star read for me! It is due to be released in the U.S. September 13, 2016 so pre-order now!
Thanks to Netgalley and Crown Publishing for allowing me the egalley to read and give my honest opinion!