#1 International bestselling novel set in 1920s Ceylon, about a young Englishwoman who marries a charming tea plantation owner and widower, only to discover he’s keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences
When I picked this for review, I only looked at the beautiful cover and the title. I should have been more thorough, but there weren’t that many books to choose from that day on Blogging For Books. If you look solely at those two things, would you think this book was about a white British Colonialist?
I should have known better, especially if I really would have paid attention to the white author’s name. Come on, Crown Publishing, do better.
It’s immediately bad, from the moment Gwen steps into Ceylon and meets a Sinhalese man and thinks to herself just how she has never met anyone so “exotic.” The racism is never challenged, it just is continually thrown out there. And, yes, part of it could be the time period–it IS a book about British Colonialism–but that doesn’t excuse stuff like this:
“I wouldn’t care. Savi and I could live like savages on a remote island in the Indian Ocean. He could paint me naked every day, until my skin turned brown in the sun, and then we’d be the same color.”
NOPE. No thank you. But I kept reading even after that, because I wanted to give a solid review.
The final straw was the main plot point. Part II: The Secret.
Hey guys, I’m gonna give away the secret, so if this book is at ALL appealing to you…well, I don’t know why you’re still following my blog, for one…but I guess stop reading the post at this point?
Gwen has twins. And surprise one is not white! Oh no, what to do! Hide the baby away in a village where no one knows it exists except her and the ayah! Thank goodness everyone was out of town and at parties and the doctor couldn’t be there for the delivery so this mysterious unwhite baby could be shuttered away from society. How could this happen? Oh wait–that one night when I was drunk could I have maybe slept with the “exotic” man?
I hope you all know I’m writing that EXTREMELY tongue-in-cheek. The whole thing was so gross, but also just so predictable and badly written. How sad is it that as it was happening, I KNEW what was going to happen because it was just that kind of storyline. Like these are the kinds of books I used to read on the regular. It’s weird now, to look back at myself even a few years ago compared to now–how much I have learned and am still learning–and how it has changed the way I read books.
Anyway. Ugh. Hard pass on this. Pretty cover. Ugly book.
Blogging for Books and Crown Publishing/Broadway Books provided a copy of this book for an unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.