Friday, December 23, 2016

The Tea Planter's Wife

I like an exotic locale for a novel, so this book cover drew me in pretty quickly.  The novel by Dinah Jefferies takes place in Ceylon, known for growing some of the very best teas.  Beginning in 1925, young Gwendolyn is wed to Laurence Hooper, an Englishman who owns a tea plantation in Ceylon.  She is excited to arrive at her new home and learn about tea growing and be the mistress of the house.  When she arrives, mysteries begin to appear and an atmosphere of distrust and resentment on the part of the employees causes her to feel a sense of foreboding and disquiet, although she cannot put her finger on the cause.
Among the mysteries are an unmarked grave in the woods, a sister-in-law who obviously does not want her around and the plant foreman who has no use for the owner's new wife.  She feels alone and homesick to the point of exhaustion.  As complications develop, Gwen feels a very real sense of her life being in danger; no more on that.  I wouldn't want to be guilty of giving you a spoiler!
The Tea Planter's Wife is well written from a technical standpoint.  Sentence structure is good and grammar is spot on. It is easy to read. Ms. Jefferies does a good job describing the atmosphere and the beauty of Ceylon.  What it lacks is a real sense of depth.  It is a story written "on the surface" bringing the reader intrigue that does not play out as it appears.  All is not as sinister as it seems and the  mysteries have simple, human emotional origins.  It is solved too easily and no one is as bad as they appear to be.  This is not a disappointing book, as it were, it is just benign, promising a mysterious malevolent dark cause that is not there.  There were no surprises.  If this is what you like in a book, this one is for you.
What it does have in it's favor is what the author left out.  That is very little sex, no dirty language and it is not offensive.  I was pleased that it was written for the sake of the story being told.  That is the mark of a good writer, in my opinion, however lacking in depth this story was. It did not pull me in.  I was not absorbed or compelled to keep reading.
The Tea Planter's Wife spent sixteen weeks on bestseller lists in the U.K.  This is her second novel.  She also wrote The Separation and The Silk Merchant's Daughter.  Her fourth novel, Before the Rains, will be published in the U.K. in February 2017.   Dinah Jefferies lives in Gloucestershire. 
I give this book two and a half stars.  Published by Penquin Random House, I received a review copy from Blogging For Books, for the purpose of an honest review.  These words are my opinion. 
You can read more about Dinah Jefferies and her novels at Dinah Jefferies.  To find out more about Blogging For Books, visit them at Blogging For Books
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