When at just nineteen, newly married Gwen steps off a boat in 1920s Ceylon, she may as well be steeping into another world.
One which is bright, vivid and full of possibilities with a new husband she adores.
But this new world has many secrets and so does this new husband.
As her life unravels before her, it’s time for this naive young girl to figure out what to stand by and who to trust.
The Tea Planter’s Wife is Dinah Jefferies second novel, which was published in September 2015 and has featured on the Sunday Times best-sellers list.
Jefferies was born in Malaysia and this subsequently features as the setting for her first novel – The Separation.
She moved to England when she was nine and has since spent years living in Tuscany, Suffolk and Spain, before now settling near family in Gloucestershire.
However, she never lost her passion for the beautiful eastern country of her early childhood and her love of the East is so apparent in her work.
The descriptive imagery portraying the exotic settings throughout The Tea Planter’s Wife is a triumph. The character construction is also equally charming.
Gwen, herself, is a wonderful and strong protagonist – and, as I’ve stated in previous posts, it’s so hard to find a lead female narrative that doesn’t become irritating.
Whilst at times naive and self-destructive, there is an underlying goodness in Gwen that leaves you powerless as to falling in love with her.
I loved her so much as a character, I found myself getting protective and defensive whenever she met an adversary (and yes there was some shouting out loud mid-chapter).
I have not read a book in a good while that has provoked me like that – which one tends to see as a very good sign.
The story itself was very well executed, and whilst as a reader I did predict some of the plot twists, there were some real curve balls which blind-sided me.
Whilst this novel gives you all of the ingredients of a classic love story (rivalry, suspense, passion) – you also have something a little original and special too.
Before reading this novel I had no knowledge of colonial Ceylon or the interplay of heated racial tensions, union disputes or even the tea industry itself – all of which I found extensively fascinating.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Tea Planter’s Wife – certainly one of the best books I have read in a long time. I now eagerly await the release of Jefferies’ The Silk Merchant’s Daughter and, in the meantime, will keep myself quiet reading The Separation.
Published by Penguin, The Tea Planter’s Wife retails at £7.99.
The Silk Merchant’s Daughter, retailing at £12.99, will be released in hardcover on 25th February. Paperback copies of the novel, also retailing at £7.99, will be released later in July.