Louisa Reeve, the daughter of a successful British gem trader, and her husband Elliot, a charming, thrill-seeking businessman, seem like the couple who have it all. Except what they long for more than anything: a child.
While Louisa struggles with miscarriages, Elliot is increasingly absent, spending much of his time at a nearby cinnamon plantation, overlooking the Indian ocean. After his sudden death, Louisa is left alone to solve the mystery he left behind.
Revisiting the plantation at Cinnamon Hills, she finds herself unexpectedly drawn towards the owner Leo, a rugged outdoors man with a chequered past. The plantation casts a spell, but all is not as it seems. And when Elliot’s shocking betrayal is revealed, Louisa has only Leo to turn to . . .
‘The Tea Planter’s Wife‘ is the first Dinah Jefferies novel I read and I love its atmosphere, poignancy and vivid characterisation. ‘The Sapphire Widow’ also takes place in 1930s Ceylon and has all of these qualities.
Louise born in Ceylon to a prosperous gemstone merchant loses her mother at an early age but now feels she lives a charmed life, with Elliot, her successful, maverick husband. Louise regrets the loss of her children to miscarriage and stillbirth and Elliot’s mysterious and frequent disappearances, but she doesn’t realise the true extent of his deceit until a tragic accident occurs.
Louise is a strong character but the revelations that follow her husband’s death make her wonder if anything in her marriage was true and threaten her willingness to risk her heart again. Louise shows great compassion by helping people whose very existence has caused her harm. It is this selfless behaviour that endears. Thankfully her forgiving nature and good works provide the tools for her broken heart and self-esteem to heal.
Leo, the cinnamon plantation owner is the antithesis of Elliot, self-reliant, serious and loyal, he has secrets in his past but Louise comes to realise it is present actions, not past ones that are important.
The cameo appearance of Gwen from ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ gives the story authenticity and provides Louise with the necessary support to rebuild her life, from someone who has suffered great loss.
The plot has twists and mysteries, which are not too hard to work out but it is the characters and setting that make this story memorable, especially Louise.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK Viking via NetGalley in return for an honest review.