Two things attracted me to The Tea Planter’s Wife at first glance: the beautiful cover and the intriguing title. I wanted to know who this woman was and what her life was like. In the cover art she looks troubled and deep in thought. With no other information about her other than her husband’s profession I wanted to read what was it that made her sit on this balcony looking quite forlorn.
And the book didn’t disappoint. I loved it! The characters captivated my interest from the very beginning, and the slow reveal of everyone’s secrets kept me reading with great anticipation of how all of this was going to work out in the end.
I mentioned secrets. There’s several secrets in this book, which kept me pondering most of the time. Even when I knew the secret, I wondered how on earth the other characters were going to respond once the secret was out. Author Dinah Jefferies doesn’t just come out with the secrets either, but draws them out with subtle hints and sometimes just enough details to lead you to guess 2-3 different possibilities. This is very skillful storytelling on Jefferies’ part.
The relationships in the story are quite complicated too, from a sister who is over-attached to her brother and gets in the way of his marriage relationship, to a secret child whose very existence threatens to tear apart the marriage, to the tea planter himself still grieving the loss of his first wife and child. I like reading about complex relationships because struggles like that usually reveal characters’ true selves along with their strengths and weaknesses.
Having not read much historical fiction set in the 1920s, I enjoyed the time period, with mentions of ’20s fashions (flapper dresses!) and the worldwide impact of the Great Depression in America comes into play as well. The story is not set in America (plays out in Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka, an island off the coast of India) yet investors around the world were impacted by the American market crash.
Overall I’d say it’s a fun little piece of historical fiction.
I received this book free from Blogging for Books for this review.