Author: Dinah Jefferies
Published Date:September 13th 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction,
My Rating: ★ ★
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 . . .
"Sometimes events spiral out of control in ways we cannot foresee. It isn't necessarily a case for blame, but for realizing that even a slight lack of judiciousness can trigger something terrible."
Gwen is a young bride who is now the second wife to Laurence who’s last wife who sadly past away. She is an outsider at first in the India Tea plantation, but as time goes on and she starts exploring and getting a hand of managing the house she starts to feel at home. I think this would have happened sooner though if Laurence’s sister Verity hadn’t been around so much causing problems.
With Gwen having arguments with not only McGregor and the Appu about how things should be done around the house and where exactly her place is, things get a bit tense at times. But with the help of Laurence and with Verity occasionally leaving Gwen is able to pursue her own interests especially after the baby is born. This causes problem of its own though when Gwen thinks something awful has happened to her causing her much heartache that could have all been avoided if some investigating or questioning had been done.
"Though she was scared, Gwen pitied the men, and feared McGregor's pursuit of them, but while the workers' wretched poverty moved her to tears, she realized that to Verity, they were to poor and insignificant to matter."
Now I feel like I also must talk about Verity, because the feelings I have towards her have gone from pity, to shame, worry to anger more times then I cared to keep track of. She is a truly awful sibling who should have been put in her place far earlier. All she cared about was making sure what stayed hers was hers and was willing to do anything to keep it that way. I just couldn’t stand her and by the end of the book I’m glad that both Gwen and Laurence had put their foot down and said enough was enough.
"And I am your wife. It really can't go on like this. I am not prepared to spend the rest of my married life sharing my home, and I might add, my husband, with his spoiled, indulged sister."I feel like this is all I can really say about this book, without giving away the main plot points for most of the book sadly.
I’m not going to lie, I really struggled to read this book. I started out excited and liking the characters. But as time went on and most of the characters were extremely secretive and at points constantly having self pity, I struggled to keep reading. Having said that though, I did love the setting of Ceylon, India and getting to learn some about what the workers life was like (while this does focus on the British, the main character wants to become involved with helping the workers so we see that at times) I would have liked to see more about the workers though and less self pitying woe is me. But that’s beside the point.
"I believe in treating people kindly and fairly, whatever the color of their skin."
This book did have its strong suits as well. It keep things hidden for a long time, while also keeping you wanting to find out if your theory on things was correct. Something that I think also would have made this story better, is if the characters weren’t constantly leaving as soon as you started to know them. This made it hard at times to keep track of everyone and remembering if you even liked them or not. Overall this book was okay. I loved the setting, but not a fan of how drawn out everything was.
Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.