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 neighbors 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.
My take: 4 looks
I was riveted by this story. I read several books at a time, and I found myself thinking about this book as I was reading another. I can think of no higher compliment to this author.
Gwen is a lovely protagonist. We are cheering for her, shouting advice, and mourning when she is bereft. I love how she develops and grows in the story, and the perfect combination of backbone and forgiveness she extends. Her husband, Laurence, is an affable character, and deals well with her as a new, young bride compared with also being his second wife. Periphery characters add additional spice to the story, and are completely believable and enjoyable.
The tumult of Ceylon under British rule plays out on the outskirts, but touches the family throughout the story. A bit of an epic, we see the Stock Market crash in New York, prohibition, changes in fashion, and mixed-race marriages. There are so many wonderful nuances to the story, and it is wholly satisfying in the end.
I recommend this and look forward to reading more by Jefferies.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.