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Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley

The beginning chapter of the novel is merely a hint to the intrigue and mystery that is to follow. The Tea Planters Wife is a captivating tale of intrigue, culture shock, and misfortune. It is a testament to the statement of the truth will set you free and deception will only lead to heartbreak and agony. Yet in this way, it is a realistic novel for people make mistakes and realize too late the power of honesty. We all live within our own heads and when we can finally take a moment to step outside, it can sometimes be too late.

The Tea Planter’s Wife tells the story of Gwen, a woman who leaves behind the life she knew in order to move to Ceylon. She is instantly immersed in a culture she does not understand with a history she does not know. Not only is the culture a mystery, upon arriving she finds out that even in the shadows of her own home there are untold secrets. In a slow buildup of suspense reminiscent of Jane Eyre, the readers follow Gwen on her journey to both navigate her new place in the world and to uncover the truth.

Gwen is a touchingly human character, forced to make decisions on unstable ground and in fear of losing the love of her husband Lawrence. We feel her sense of foreboding, distrust, and confusion and the truth is withheld from her and results in her tragic mistakes. Striving to be a perfect wife, Gwen struggles to traverse the choppy waters in a world she does not understand. Her heart ache, betrayal, and mistakes are powerful, only to be made more so by the rich language and vivid setting.

There are many times while reading that one longs to shout at the characters or persuade them to do otherwise. This is only proof of how fascinating and real they seem. No one is safe from mistakes, regret, and guilt. The journey we witness is full of complex and tortured characters all battling with their own demons and riddles. To unravel them throughout the course of the novel is a pleasure and the ending provides a realistic sense of closure, for we can never change our actions in the past and can only learn to live with ourselves. The book is published September 13th and I would encourage those who are interested in reading a book similar to Jane Eyre or interesting in Ceylon racial tensions during that time period.

Cover image from NetGalley website.

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