“Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss. Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . .”
The Tea Planters Wife is a wonderful read. It is set in the exotic Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka) and follows the journey of Gwen after she moves there in 1925 to be with her new husband at the tender age of 19. On arrival in this different and exciting land, she starts to notice that her husband has changed in the months since they met in England. She can feel that her new home is hiding secrets and sets to find them out, while also trying to adjust to life as the mistress of the house and learning how to deal with the nosy neighbours and the servants. Within her first year in Ceylon, she suffers a traumatic event which she struggles to come to terms with for the remainder of the book.
It was interesting to read about life in Ceylon. The story focuses not only on Gwen’s relationship with her husband, but also with the plantation workers and neighbours, both locals and Westerners. All of the way through I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next and loved the way all of the threads of the story came together towards the . I haven’t read anything by Dinah Jefferies before but I loved her style of writing so will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of her books.