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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter’s Wife

I absolutely loved this novel. Right from the first moment we meet Gwen, the main character, on a boat to Ceylon to meet her new husband and start her new life, we are swept up into her world: the colours, the smells, the noise of her new environment assault our senses in the same way they will have assaulted hers, making the whole story seem very vivid and authentic.

Gwen cannot know what significance her chance meeting on the boat with Savi Ravisinghe will have, but as we follow her story more and more is revealed about how his life becomes intertwined with hers.

The short prologue to the novel suggests that all might not be smooth running for Gwendoline when she arrives at her husband's tea plantation. But this is so skilfully written that it does not give too much away and we are left not knowing what the challenges that Gwen has to face will turn out to be.

The reader quickly identifies with Gwen in the new life she is facing. She does not know how things are done in Ceylon, so she has to rely on picking up her cue from others. But who can she trust and who might lead her astray?

Inevitably Gwen makes mistakes and causes problems for herself and others. But she is also plunged into a turmoil not of her own making that leads her into having to make a terrible and heart rending choice which will have serious consequences for her, her husband and everyone around them.

I found this a very emotional story. It is shot through with sadness and regret. But Gwen is such a strong character that the reader continues to identify with her throughout and really experience the ups and downs with her.

The depiction of Ceylon, and the way life was lived by British people on the plantations is sensitively and evocatively depicted. The way we are taken as readers to a totally different time and place is masterful.

The story is one that stays with you as a reader due to a combination of living and breathing characters, an inspired setting and a compelling plot.

I highly recommend this book for its satisfying mix of romance, family story and adventure.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.

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