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The Tea Planter's Wife

“The shawl spun gently and was carried downstream by the wind, like a red kite reeling and twisting as it surrendered to its inevitable descent”

The Tea Planter’s Wife ~ Dinah Jefferies

Perhaps I should be ashamed to admit that the book cover is what initially drew me to the story but then again, I will read anything. Set in the mid 1950’s picturesque Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the story is set around a British family on a colonial tea plantation. Apart from the serene locale, the book very interestingly deals with colonial attitudes towards racism. Having grown up in India, it was difficult to disassociate myself from the historical significance the book has in my own life and heritage but the characters and the plot were able to help with that. Gwen, a naive nineteen year old English girl marries a successful and older tea planter and begins her life with him in Ceylon. This alluring facade soon begins to give way at the seams as Gwen realises that she might not know her husband as well as she had assumed and before long there are her own secrets to keep. Although initially, I was slightly put off by the characterisation of Lawrence (the husband) of this seemingly perfect male figure, I soon found myself increasingly keen on finding out what happens next.

Reader: Gwen, you left your home and country behind for a man you have known for a few weeks. Err…why?

Gwen: He has a cleft chin

Reader: He isn’t attentive enough and he might be cheating on you. Go back home Gwen!

Gwen: We’re really good at what bunnies do, if you know what I mean

Why you should read it:

  • Replete with good ol’ fashioned family drama – the jealous wife, wicked sister-in-law etc.
  • The book doesn’t fail to surprise you, every couple of chapters
  • A fairly accurate look into the life of an Asian colonial family

Why you shouldn’t read it:

  • The husband’s attractive character could sometimes seem slightly forced upon

Note – I was provided with a pre publication copy of the book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review