The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies
Crown, 2018. Hardcover, 368 pages.
Set several years after the events in The Tea Planter’s Wife, Jefferies returns to the setting of Ceylon. This time, the story focuses on Louisa Reeve and her family. Louisa grew up as a motherless daughter of a gem dealer. Her father, Jonathan, loved her and still does his best to protect Louisa now that she is married. Elliot, Louisa’s husband works for her father overseeing the gem-cutting house. It looks like they have it all, but one night a tragedy occurs everything changes.
Elliot’s death reveals a new side to his life. Gambling debts and a mistress are revealed. Louisa is forced to question whether or not she really knew the man she married. With the support of her father and sister-in-law, Margo, Louisa navigates her new world and struggles to make sense of everything she learned. Also assisting is Leo, an acquaintance of Elliot’s who also soon becomes important to her. Gwen Hooper from The Tea Planter’s Wife also plays a supporting role as she provides insights and guidance to help her friend. Readers will also learn about Gwen and her family’s lives in the years after the previous novel’s end. Throughout, all will have to work together to solve a mystery that still surrounds Elliot’s death.
As per with The Tea Planter’s Wife, Jefferies has a great attention to the details of her setting that are vivid enough to make one feel they are in Ceylon. Readers will also feel the full impact of all of Louisa’s emotions as she struggles with her demons and sets a new path in life. It is that emotion and how Louisa deals with it that drives the novel. However, the plot was fairly predictable with a picture perfect ending. Like the Jefferies’ American debut, social issues are also addressed but I cannot say which and how without revealing a key aspect of the plot.
Have you read The Tea Planter’s Wife? If so, what did you think? ARe you interested in giving The Sapphire Widow a try? Do you have any recommendations for other books set in or about British colonial locations?
Thanks to First to Read for an advanced copy of the novel. This novel will be released tomorrow, August 14th.