Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "In this lush, sexy, atmospheric page-turner, a young Englishwoman, 19-year-old Gwendolyn, marries a rich and seductively mysterious widower, Laurence Hooper, after a whirlwind romance in London. When she joins him at his Ceylon tea plantation, she's certain she'll be the perfect wife and, someday, mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbors, and her new sister-in-law, treacherous. Gwen finds herself drawn to a Singhalese man of questionable intentions and worries about the propriety of her husband's connection to an American widow. But most troubling are the terrible secrets in Laurence's past that soon come to light and force Gwen to make a devastating choice. What happened to his first wife? And will the darkness of his past destroy their marriage and Gwen's chance at happiness? Set in rich and exotic 1920s Ceylon, The Tea Planter's Wife is an utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner that climaxes with more than one heartbreaking twist."
Gwen, a young English woman, marries the man of her dreams and is uprooted to tropical Ceylon to become the mistress of a tea plantation. She knows nothing about the new land she lives in let alone how to run a tea plantation or a great house, but she is willing to learn. After all, she is madly in love with Laurence, but sometimes things get confusing. He is really elusive at times and isn't entirely clear when he answers her questions about what his life was like in Ceylon before her arrival. Is this just the ups and downs of married life or is he hiding secrets? Enter Christina, an American socialite and banker, who meets with Laurence a lot regarding his investments. Gwen never truly feels comfortable around her and then there's Verity, Laurence's clingy and annoying sister. Not only does she hang around the house too much, Laurence even gives her an allowance and takes care of her. The dynamic is definitely off and Gwen is here without any friends or family. Whenever she asks about Laurence's first wife, Caroline, she is met with a lot of strange answers, if any answers at all. How did Caroline die? Then there's Savi, a Sinhalese painter, who she originally befriends, but can she trust him? Laurence wants nothing to do with him, but Gwen has no clue why. One thing is for sure, there are many, many secrets lurking in Ceylon and Gwen wants some answers. The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies is an atmospheric and mysterious read reminiscent of some of my favorite Gothic romances.
I truly felt for Gwen as she is just a young girl in a foreign country without much help. She is not only learning a new way of life, she is also learning what it takes to be a wife and mistress of a great plantation. To make matters worse, it is clear that Laurence loves her, but is being very secretive regarding his past. As The Tea Planter's Wife continues on, Gwen learns more and more about what truly happened to Laurence's first wife, but things get complicated for her. I don't want to give too much away, but it's surrounding Gwen's pregnancy. What occurs afterwards will impact her life forever as she starts to withhold her own life-altering secrets.
I don't think the romance was very strong in The Tea Planter's Wife . I felt like Laurence did love her, but I didn't feel a strong connection between them like I was hoping for. The novel excelled at the mystery and bringing the exotic setting to life, but the character of Laurence wasn't full fleshed out. He was wishy washy at times and a push over, which I found really unappealing. How he deals with his annoying sister was frustrating and I seriously wanted her out of the picture.
The best part of The Tea Planter's Wife was Jefferies ability to bring to life the gorgeous and exotic setting of Ceylon to life. It was very atmospheric and I loved her descriptions of the house, the tropical foliage, the lake, the surrounding forest, and so much more. Since parts of this story were rather dark and the setting was a sprawling plantation house, this novel definitely had a Gothic vibe to it, which I enjoyed.
The last quarter of the novel and conclusion of The Tea Planter's Wife was a bit disappointing for me and rather quick, but overall, I found the novel to be entertaining. The Tea Planter's Wife is definitely for fans of historical fiction who like stories filled with secrets and suspense.
Thanks to Crown Publishing, I have an extra ARC of this novel to give away to one lucky US reader. Please refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is November 2, 2016. Good luck!
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