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 . . .
When I read the description of the story, I was intrigued with the premise and it is not often I have a chance to read fiction stories about tea plantations in the British colonies. This story’s setting takes place in Ceylon. My first thoughts were I hope the author blends in facts about tea production and the relations between the British and the natives. We know that history teaches us that the British mistreated the natives often and used them horribly.
I read this story as a buddy read with a few of my fellow book bloggers/reviewers. We had a great time discussing the book in detail. There were parts of the story we liked and parts of the story we were utterly frustrated with.
The story as a whole needed to be fleshed out better and a few times I found myself ready to abandon the book. For example, the mystery to the story. If the mystery was fully developed, the book could have had a better rating from me. Maybe.
While each character had an interesting story of their own, the telling seemed weak and I began to feel myself unsympathetic to their plight.
The story moved slowly-too slowly-and I felt dissatisfied with the results. I also felt the social situations of the story could have been stronger. Though the structure of a tea plantation was mildly interesting and the relations between the natives and the British were somewhat believable….to a point. It wasn’t enough to hold my complete attention.
Verity and Laurence-sister/brother- relationship was unbalanced to me and Gwen-Laurence wife-was uninteresting at best. The author wants you to feel the dysfunctionality of their household but the whole dynamic between them was contrived. I would like to say more about this but will leave it at that.
I am sorry to give it such a negative report. This story had great potential but it fell short.
I rated this story two and a half stars and obtained a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.
Stephanie M. Hopkins