The Tea Planter's Wife

Young, naive and hopelessly in love, Gwendolyn Hooper follows her husband, Laurence, from London to his family's tea plantation in Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka) in 1926. Gwen is thrilled about the adventure of living in an exotic place, but her new home isn't quite the paradise it appears to be. As Gwen adjusts to her role as Laurence's wife and mistress of the household, she must also contend with restless plantation workers, a meddling sister-in-law and an American widow who knows Laurence all too well. Dinah Jefferies weaves a complicated story of secrets and tangled relationships in her third novel (and U.S. debut), The Tea Planter's Wife.

Upon her arrival in Ceylon, Gwen meets Savi Ravasinghe, a handsome Sinhalese artist whose presence is both stimulating and unsettling. Savi and others, including Laurence's sister, Verity, drop hints about a few disturbing secrets, such as the fate of Laurence's first wife, Caroline. Like the unnamed narrator in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, Gwen lives in the shadow of her predecessor, struggling to make sense of an unfamiliar world where she doesn't know the rules. Although Gwen (like the second Mrs. de Winter) is sometimes irritatingly passive, she eventually finds the courage to take the helm of her own life. But she and Laurence must reckon with the consequences of their decisions, as well as economic and political uncertainties.

Lushly described and full of plot twists (some expected, some less so), The Tea Planter's Wife is a satisfying historical novel. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Powered by: Xtenit