If only people would just talk to each other – The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jeffries

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts


Gwen has gone to join her older, widowed husband in Ceylon. But the man and the situation she knew back home are different to what she had thought, and she seems surrounded by secrets. A night of drunken confusion and the surprise that comes nine months later lead to secrets of her own – can she and husband Lawrence overcome the secrets, misunderstanding and pain between them?

The most pleasant surprise about this book was that it is set in Sri Lanka! I am perhaps very ignorant (definitely when it comes to geography) and didn’t link Ceylon to Sri Lanka, where Aidan and I went on honeymoon. It was fun to visit again even if in the past and in book form. Though overwritten and another of the books that frustrate me because everything would be solved if only everyone would just talk to each other (and don’t talk to me about the title), I enjoyed this!

We see the whole story from the point of view of Gwen, which works well as like her we are thrust into a world we don’t understand, the secrets of which along with her we are trying to decipher. I did find her frustrating though; I know it is self-doubt and naivety etc but really she should just ask her husband what really happened with his first wife. Perhaps not immediately, but the book spans years. She does occasionally show some grit, but it doesn’t ever become consistent.

Despite his secrecy, I liked Lawrence too – adding to the feeling that probably if they talked he would have been reasonable.

The mysteries and dramas within the story were convincing and gripping; I was definitely deeply invested in finding out what was going on, and was surprised more than once. The various characters all have elements of mystery to them, most of which were satisfyingly revealed and resolved in some way or another. There was a sister called Verity which I confused mentally with Verity Poldark a fair bit though they were very different!

And being in Sri Lanka, learning a bit more of it’s history and background before it turned into what I saw – a country of tourism – was fun, and I would probably have liked to know those things before I went. The prose was generally over descriptive, but not too obtrusively so.

This book was good fun, and a great summer read!

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