Ordinarily Jefferies’ novel wouldn’t have been something I would choose to read, but the description sounded interesting. The title and cover kind of age (in my opinion) the selection of readers likely to choose this book.
However, once I became invested in the story, I couldn’t put it down. The last night reading it, I told myself “just until the end of this chapter” (it was eleven at night). At the end of the chapter, though, the part I was anticipating still hadn’t arrived … so I told myself, “just until this part is resolved” (now almost midnight). When the part was resolved, there weren’t that many pages left to read, so I might as well finish the book … right? It was after one in the morning when I finished The Tea Planter’s Wife, but it was worth it.
It’s the 1900’s and a young girl named Gwendolyn (Gwen) has just married the love of her life – but he lives across the ocean from her. Gwen is determined, though, that “If Ceylon was where his heart belonged, it was where her heart would belong too” (pg. 15). She settles into her new life on the tea plantation, learning a heartbreaking secret along the way. It’s not long before she has a secret of her own, a secret that could ruin her contented, well-established life.
I loved that Jefferies revealed the secrets concealed throughout this novel slowly, making readers think that they knew the entire truth but then showing us that we were too confident too soon. For one secret in particular, throughout most of the book I thought I’d figured it out – of course the reader knows more than the characters! – but Jefferies proved me too confident once again.
The characters were very real, with insecurities and mistakes, and while reading these 413 pages, the reader exists in the novel. There were a few inconsistencies in The Tea Planter’s Wife that bothered me after reading, but they were minor. One was in the prologue, in the short description of what the unknown woman did before leaving the house (I cannot explain without plot spoiling, but maybe you will notice it, too?). The other was in a description of a ball Gwen attended.. even in Gwen’s (slight) memory of the event, the same detail was included – but it’s a detail that doesn’t make sense when it comes to the explanation at the end of the novel.
Inconsistencies included, I loved The Tea Planter’s Wife, and would gladly read any similar works that Jefferies has to offer.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.