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?
The Tea Planter’s Wife is a story of guilt, betrayal and untold secrets vividly and entrancingly set in colonial era Ceylon.
The Tea Planter’s Wife is another novel I’ve read recently which sits slightly outside my comfort zone but I am so glad that I chose to read it. It is a beautifully written, engaging story and I really enjoyed every page.
At first, when I met our protagonist, Gwen, I was concerned that she would be a young wife, submissive to an older man, and that I would find it difficult to relate to her. However, this was not the case at all and I enjoyed getting to know her as she navigates a new environment. As the novel progressed, she grows in confidence and I enjoyed reading as this transformation took place. Each of the characters is very different, but they are all so well drawn, I found it impossible not to be invested in their lives.
I have very little knowledge of tea planting and the cultures in Ceylon, but I immediately found myself transported to the setting by the beautiful descriptions which brought it to life.
Through The Tea Planter’s Wife, Jefferies explores a number of themes which are as relevant now as they were in the 1920s. I particularly appreciated being able to gain a greater understanding of issues such as racism, disability and childbirth and how they affected the people living in that period.
The Tea Planter’s Wife is available from Amazon.