The Tea Planter's Wife
By Dinah Jefferies
Published by Penguin (3 September 2015)
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 . . .
In The Tea Planter's Wife, I was well and truly transported back to 1920s Ceylon. The sights, sounds and aromas all came alive in this well-written emotional and tragic story.
Newly-wed Gwen travels to Ceylon to join her husband Laurence on his tea plantation. She is ill-prepared for her new life, with little knowledge of this exotic country's people and culture. While her husband works hard to build up and expand his business, Gwen is left much to her own devices. She takes over the running of the household but struggles to cope with her husband's sister Verity, a difficult and spiteful young woman with no plans to make a life of her own.
Laurence's first wife and baby son died several years earlier under suspicious circumstances, and no one talks about the past. When Gwen falls pregnant, tragedy strikes, leading to secrets and decisions that haunt and torment Gwen over the years.
When I started reading The Tea Planter's Wife, I was expecting a straightforward saga with a few family secrets. But this book is so much more than this. It's a story of jealousy, greed, love, exploration and tragedy. I wasn't prepared for the revelations at the end; under different circumstances, the story could have been so different. This was a lovely read and the story stayed in my mind for some time afterwards.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley and through the Lovereading Reviewer Panel in exchange for an honest review.