Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

The Tea Planter's Wife: Book summary and reviews of The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter's Wife

by Dinah Jefferies

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies X
The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published Sep 2016
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Set in rich and exotic 1920s Ceylon, The Tea Planter's Wife is an utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner that climaxes with more than one heartbreaking twist.

In this lush, sexy, atmospheric page-turner, a young Englishwoman, 19-year-old Gwendolyn, marries a rich and seductively mysterious widower, Laurence Hooper, after a whirlwind romance in London. When she joins him at his Ceylon tea plantation, she's certain she'll be the perfect wife and, someday, mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbors, and her new sister-in-law, treacherous.

Gwen finds herself drawn to a Singhalese man of questionable intentions and worries about the propriety of her husband's connection to an American widow. But most troubling are the terrible secrets in Laurence's past that soon come to light and force Gwen to make a devastating choice. What happened to his first wife? And will the darkness of his past destroy their marriage and Gwen's chance at happiness?

Click to Download the Book Club Kit

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. ...a superbly written novel that readers of historical fiction as well as women's fiction will treasure." - Booklist

"Starred Review. This atmospheric and suspenseful novel is reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier's classic Rebecca and will enthrall fans of gothic romances." - Library Journal

"A melodrama of the waning British Empire." - Kirkus

"While characters aside from Gwen and Laurence never feel fully fleshed out, Jefferies makes up for this defect by offering suspense and pathos, and by resisting the temptation to gloss over true heartbreak and regret." - Publishers Weekly

"My ideal read; mystery, love heartbreak and joy - I couldn't put it down." - Santa Montefiore, author of The Beekeeper's Daughter

"Beautifully written and heartrending, this has a magical setting with a real sense of period." - Katie Fforde, bestselling author of A French Affair

"A terrific emotional and atmospheric read." - Elizabeth Buchan, author of Separate Beds

"Dinah Jefferies has once again created a gloriously atmospheric and tension-filled novel. Immensely enjoyable, poignant, and compelling." - Isabel Wolff, author of Shadows Over Paradise

"I was spellbound from beginning to end." - Deborah Rodriguez, author of A Cup of Friendship

"A wonderful book, deeply touching, and an unforgettable read that swept me away. I loved it." - Kate Furnivall, author of The Italian Wife

"Vibrant and compelling - Dinah Jefferies perfectly captures the flavour of colonial Ceylon." - Rosanna Ley, author of The Villa

"Dark secrets lie at every turn, hidden beneath layers of 1920s racism and the fearfulness of a crumbling colonial power, making for a thoroughly gripping tale." - Liz Trenow, author of The Forgotten Seamstress

This information about The Tea Planter's Wife was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Sarah H. (Arvada, CO)

A journey for the senses
When I read fiction I want to get lost in the story, in the experience and forget I am reading a book in the first place. This book delivers on that front via beautiful prose and an effortless sensory experience. From the very first pages I can feel the humidity, see the colors of Gwen's clothes, and experience her apprehension. The story alone may not warrant 5 stars but the delivery is such an amazing trip to another place and time, I think it deserves it without reservation.

Marion W. (Issaquah, WA)

Tea, Troubles, Tragedy
This is an interesting novel, replete with evocative scenes of the beautiful country of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and the life of colonials there in the 1920s. The author has done much research into the history and culture of that place and era. Prejudiced attitudes toward race play an important part.
Gwen comes from England to live with new husband Laurence, a much older widower and owner of a large tea plantation. Things do not go smoothly. A strange fluke of atavism in genetics presents the young wife with a dilemma when she bears twins.
There is more than a whiff of "Rebecca" in this book (mysteriously deceased first wife and son, seemingly sinister male friend of hers always on the scene), but there are many different angles which a book club could discuss.
(I'm still wondering about the genetics--but I studied that subject sixty years ago, before we'd heard of DNA, and with only Mendel's theories to go by!)

Mary O. (Boston, MA)

A Ceylon Experience
As usual I find myself in love with an unforgettable debut novel! The Tea Planter's Wife is a riveting, mesmerizing story of the intricacies of colonialism and how race can haunt it. Numerous secrets cloud the past and present. This is a beautifully written page turner and joy to read. I hated it to end!

Laurie H. (Stuart, FL)

Tea and a great Read!
What a beautifully written book. I was intrigued from the first paragraph and couldn't put it down. Gwen was strong and I liked how her love for Ceylon and the people grew as the book progressed. The other characters developed nicely and added depth to the story. Nicely done.

Mary D. (Claremont, CA)

The Tea Planter's Wife
No spoiler alerts here, but I had figured out the general premise of the story within the first few chapters. Similar to reading the last few pages of a mystery first, the joy in this book was in following all the twists, turns, personality developments and events, before finally getting to the revelation of truth. The story is set in Ceylon, in the mid-1920s to the mid-1930s, mostly on the plantation of a British tea planter/merchant. Good attention is paid to historical accuracy, including the sad idea of British supremacy and the incredibly cruel treatment of the Ceylonese people. This book is easy to read, but it does provoke many thoughts on inequality, injustice, and the often terrible consequences of keeping secrets. I would recommend it easily to anyone interested in thought-provoking historical fiction.

Claire M. (New York, NY)

The Tea Planter's Wife
A captivating read about a well to do Englishman, the wife he marries in England, brings to his tea plantation in Ceylon in the early years of the 20th century before the fall of the Raj. Gwen meets Laurence and falls deeply in love with him, a widower who has a few secrets that impact their life and Gwen ends up having one of her own. It is an interesting combination of romance, mystery and life in a colonial household. We get glimpses of the future when the civil war will tear apart the Tamil and Sinhalese and a sense of the racism and the resentments of locals toward the plantation owners and in some cases, the reverse.
I found it a good read that indulged my long time desire to travel to India to take in the variety of peoples, the sites and senses.

...31 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Dinah Jefferies Author Biography

Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine. She still loves Southeast Asia and the Far East and jumps at the chance to travel there whenever she can. She once lived in a commune with a rock band, and has worked as an exhibiting artist. After also living in Italy and Spain, she now lives with her husband and Norfolk Terrier in Gloucestershire, where she writes full time. The Tea Planter's Wife is her second novel.

Author Interview
Link to Dinah Jefferies's Website

Name Pronunciation
Dinah Jefferies: DIE-nuh JEFF-reez

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more historical fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Change
    Change
    by Edouard Louis
    Édouard Louis's 2014 debut novel, The End of Eddy—an instant literary success, published ...
  • Book Jacket: Big Time
    Big Time
    by Ben H. Winters
    Big Time, the latest offering from prolific novelist and screenwriter Ben H. Winters, is as ...
  • Book Jacket: Becoming Madam Secretary
    Becoming Madam Secretary
    by Stephanie Dray
    Our First Impressions reviewers enjoyed reading about Frances Perkins, Franklin Delano Roosevelt's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Bloodcarver
    The Last Bloodcarver
    by Vanessa Le
    The city-state of Theumas is a gleaming metropolis of advanced technology and innovation where the ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
by Nadine Bjursten
A poignant portrayal of a woman's quest for love and belonging amid political turmoil.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The House on Biscayne Bay
    by Chanel Cleeton

    As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide.

  • Book Jacket

    The Stone Home
    by Crystal Hana Kim

    A moving family drama and coming-of-age story revealing a dark corner of South Korean history.

Win This Book
Win The Funeral Cryer

The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Debut novelist Wenyan Lu brings us this witty yet profound story about one woman's midlife reawakening in contemporary rural China.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

M as A H

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.