Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Tea Planter's Wife by Dinah Jefferies

She's nineteen and traveling by boat to Ceylon, where her new husband awaits her.  He runs a tea plantation and went home early.  She's been waiting in London for her girlfriend to join her for the trip.  When she puts her off again, Gwen makes the trip by herself.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review (thank you).  It has been published and you can buy a copy now.

This story has the atmosphere of the past.  The people of Ceylon are varied and each group has its place.  The field workers are separate from the household help.  They have their own "doctor" and they get little food.  The general manager thinks they injure themselves on purpose trying to get sick pay.  Gwen is scandalized.  She helps one man whose foot was injured and makes the general manager and her husband both angry at her.  She has a lot to learn but so do they.  Even being the meek wife, she's able to make a difference and cause some changes.

What she discovers as the new wife is that he's very busy and doesn't even sleep in the same bed she does most times.  He lost a wife and child and that still bothers him.  He doesn't want to talk about it, though.  He's got an old girlfriend that would like to still be bedding him and a sister that doesn't want to share him.  She's insecure and lonely.  But she's determined to fight for him.

She's happy when she gets pregnant and so is he.  The problem comes with delivery.  She has twins:  one white and one dark.  She's afraid a friend of hers might have taken advantage of her while she was drunk.  She has the ayah find another place for the black girl and says she only had the one baby.  She loves her boy but misses her daughter.  She's afraid to tell Laurence, he might not want her anymore.

While the two of them work on their personal issues, the plantation is hitting rough times.  It appears someone else is going to try to beat them into the international market.  The investments they made have plummeted.  And they have to lay off staff.

They are living through a tumultuous time in history and their marriage is fragile but I'm happy to say that in this story love conquers all.  They have a lot to think about and recover from but they'll make it.

I really enjoyed the historical content and the gentile feel of plantation life.  You can see the future coming.  Gwen was a fighter on the side of good and right and I liked that.

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