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? (Taken from Amazon)
For me, location plays a significant role in any novel, and Dinah Jefferies certainly does not disappoint with The Tea Planter’s Wife. Her beautiful, vivid descriptions of Ceylon really do bring the story to life, as you imagine the tea pluckers in their beautiful sari’s picking the delicate tea leaves across the vast plantations. It creates the ideal setting for the story of a young, English tea planters wife who leaves her home and family to follow her husband to the strange land in which she is to live. This novel delicately explores the racial differences of the 1920’s and 1930’s, as the natives were slowly beginning to fight for their rights, and for independence. It follows Gwen Hooper and her family as they fight to hide their own secrets at a time of significant cultural change, as they are forced to explore their own views and the impact these will have. The characters of Gwen and Laurence Hooper are wonderful examples of characters who portray love, tragedy but above all hope, at times when all feels lost.
I really cannot recommend this book enough, and am very pleased that this was book eight in my Goodreads reading challenge. I will definitely be reading more from Dinah Jefferies.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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