Book Review: The Tea Planter’s Wife


tea-planters-wife

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.

 

Book Review: Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love


Christian romance is not usually my cup of tea, but I gave Beauty for Ashes a try anyways. To be fair, the book is part Christian romance, part historical romance, and the historical elements were the parts I enjoyed best.

The premise:

“She’s a beautiful young widow. He’s a Southern gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home.”

To get “home” Carrie and Griff both have to deal with family issues — Carrie with her brother and his new hard-to-get-along-with wife, and Griff with his estranged brother and father who he felt disowned them long ago.

The spiritual issues with which the characters wrestle are mostly about searching for happiness and trusting God to take them there. The characters are challenged with hard economical times in the post-Civil War South and they’ve all suffered losses, whether it be losses of life, jobs or status.

Carrie keeps hoping things are going to turn around and get better, but that’s not what seems to be happening. The more she prays for blessing the more it seems that hard things are put on her. In the midst of this, her friend said something to her that resonated deeply with me:

“You want to please God. You want to be happy. You’re not sure whether one precludes the other.”

Ever been there? I have.

I didn’t know when I started reading Beauty for Ashes that this was the second book in author Dorothy Love’s Hickory Ridge romance series, which is a testament to how well Love inter-weaved the backstory of the first book Beyond All Measure into the pages of this one.

While I don’t usually read romances, Christian or otherwise, I like historical fiction and enjoyed the historical parts of this book. Twenty years ago, teen-aged Heather loved reading Janette Oke books, which were set in the 1840s expansion into the West. Beauty for Ashes reminded me of Oke’s books, for it’s focus on true historical times, the struggles of the people, and their reliance on God to get them through tough times.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program.