Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable, audiobook edition of The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies, read by Avita Jay.
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother. But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected.
The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous, and there are clues to the past - a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds - that her husband refuses to discuss.
Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can't stay buried forever....
©2015 Dinah Jefferies (P)2015 Penguin Books Limited
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I saw Dinah Jefferies on television the other day and decided to see what this book was like. I am so glad I did
Not my normal sort of novel but I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Touching and at times terrifying. Will be waiting for the next one now
I chose this as on the Richard and Judy bookclub list. I felt the narrative was really helpful and aided the story.
This work is set in the 1920’s and 1930’s. It speaks of the conflict of cultures between the native people of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and the colonising British people who had become the ruling group. Native traditions and their beliefs are considered secondary and inconsequential to the stiff beliefs of the ruling British.
The descriptions of Ceylon are both expressive and evocative showing the area as an extremely hot, beautiful place with many social issues. The story is infact surrounded by secrets and deception.
While it was easy to see where the story was going I did not find it easy to relate to any of the characters.
I did not like Laurence or his sister Verity. His relationship with her was very odd. I expected this to be explained in some way as the story moved forward but it was not.
Gwen came across as extremely naive and I did feel frustrated and annoyed with her lack of action and silence in the face of such things but then have to realise that I am looking on this from a different time and perspective which was not available to people of this time. While this story may and could easily have occurred to people living in such areas I would hope that they may have handled it in a more assertive way to Gwen.
The main part of the story is based around Genealogy. It is evident that to look back through a family history may produce many surprises depending on how far back you look and its sad to think of many children who were abandoned as a result of ignorance on the behalf of the parents together with fear of what others would think.
Gwen does change with the years, becoming slightly more assertive.
Overall it is evident that Gwen married a much older man with a lifetime of hidden secrets and baggage which although totally unknown to Gwen deeply affected and changed her and that of her family's life path.
I am pleased to have read this book but it moved way too slowly for me. I felt it was an average read.
I would recommend it to lovers of family historical saga’s as they may love it.
Nearly gave up on this after the first half dozen or so chapters as I found it very prescriptive, obvious and black/white characters, but glad I continued. It's much better than that and I had no idea of what would unfold. A nice, gental, engaging listen.
Prof of Global Health & Development - wide interests, fiction & non-, politics, justice & rights, culture & food, travel, art & creativity
Love story with a number of twists taking place in Ceylon (Sri Lanka since 1948) in the 1920s and 30s. The personal interactions are somewhat woody and not always believable, but the insights they reveal about racism and colonialism are interesting. The book reveals, and seems to accept with limited challenge, the structured gendered relationships of the time.
That said, the story takes place in a fascinating part of a fascinating country in a fascinating period. It offers insights to British colonialism and the establishment and consolidation of the tea industry built on the labour of Tamils from South India. The backdrop reveals something of the colonist-colonised, manager-worker, and Sinhala-Tamil relationships. There are limited insights into the labour lines in which plantation workers were (and many still are) housed in awful conditions. We learn also of other contextual factors including the stock market collapse of 1929 and the emergence of Sri Lankan nationalism and workers movements. The current drop in the price of tea has again placed pressure on these plantations and the condition in which workers and their families are housed.
An engaging read/listen with narration in keeping with Sri Lankan accents; all the more interesting if you have visited the places referenced - especially the beautiful tea covered hills of Nuwara Eliya which hide so much history, violence and struggle...
I wanted more however - deeper analysis of the complex interpersonal and inter-ethnic relationships, more critique of gendered stereotypes and the colonial project, and more evocative language.
I enjoyed this book although I think it is very much a novel for the female of the species. Having holidayed in Sri Lanka I loved the references to the places we had been such as the Candy Elephant Festival, the golf club ay Nuaria llya? and the tea plantations. Great insight into the latter stages of colonial Ceylon. Moving and believable and I did not guess the ending!
Yes because nuances missed in the first reading make greater sense of the story
Probably Fran who had the most integrity as a character
The narrator could sound less like she was about to burst into tears most of the time. Very morose delivery.
All characters slightly on the weak side
This book's central question relies on the reader not knowing anything about non-identical twins. Although the storyline is quite interesting, the writing is overwrought and cliched in places, and not really credible. An OK beach read, but not a work of great literary merit.
The story would have benefitted most from less extreme and so more believable characters and actions.
The narration was flat in places (not helped by the cliched script).
This book certainly wasn't interesting enough to warrant a follow on book.
Clichéd one dimensional characters, sadly this could have been a good book but it was drawn out to the point of repetitiveness and lacked any real grit or engagement for me.
Would not recommend.
A very deep story with cause for thought. Lovely and accurate descriptions of Ceylon.
The book covers such a wide area of real issues in the world then and now as well as personal relationships. Loved the narration with all the different accents.
"Talk About MENTAL!!!"
This book is worth the listen. It will give you historical insight and intrigue you with the psychology of the protagonist. I would listen to this book again.
I can't tell you - you have to listen to it!
I ADORE HER VOICE!!!!
yes - it was very long, but I finished it in 3 days
"A Fantastic story!!!!!"
This story was full of intense family secrets that had fatal consequences. The narrator was excellent and brought this fabulous story to life. You won't regret spending your time listening to The Tea Planters Wife!
"Angony reading ..."
It was from the start hard to read ... As the story processed it was even difficult to read .. I would not recommend any one to buy this book this The ending even when I try to finish this book was a disappointment..
"Overall, an entertaining book"
The story is very interesting, as is the exotic setting. Sometimes, especially towards the end, it gets a little over sentimental. Also, the main character seems at times irritatingly weak. As a woman she is a bit of a ninny and not too interesting. Still, a good plot that holds your attention.
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