I’m so excited to be part of the launch celebrations for The Sapphire Widow by Dinah Jefferies because I always enjoy her books. I have previously had the privilege of interviewing Dinah here, when Before the Rains was published. When I began blogging in 2015, Dinah’s The Tea Planter’s Wife was one of the first books I reviewed here (and you’ll see how the blog has evolved too). I also have my review of Dinah’s The Silk Merchant’s Daughter here too.
The Sapphire Widow was published by Penguin on 5th April 2018 and is available for purchase here.
The Sapphire Widow
Ceylon, 1935. 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…
My Review of The Sapphire Widow
With shocking news piling up thick and fast, Louisa Reeve needs to adapt rapidly to the new challenges she faces.
What I always love about Dinah Jefferies’ writing is her wonderfully evocative settings and Ceylon in 1935 is fabulously created in The Sapphire Widow. I think it’s the appeal to all the senses, from well-defined birdsong, through the aroma of cinnamon, the taste of mango and the sensation of silk against the skin, to the music of the era, for example, that so beautifully vivifies a sense of place. I could picture myself in Galle as easily as if I were walking its streets.
Dinah Jefferies’ protagonists are always wonderfully drawn. I understood Louisa completely and whilst I didn’t always agree with her actions she held my empathy throughout. It is indicative of the way all the characters are so life-like that I could quite happily have throttled Irene with my bare hands.
Setting and characterisation aside, there is so much more to The Sapphire Widow. It is a sweeping love story and can be enjoyed quite simply on that level. However, it is also a glorious cultural travelogue, transporting the reader to another country. It’s an historical tale with such a well researched level of accuracy that reading The Sapphire Widow makes the reader hugely satisfied, feeling a kind of confidence in the author. Even better, alongside all these elements there is threat and mystery too.
I thought the themes were just perfect for a dramatic romantic novel. There’s a sense of duty, love and betrayal, family dynamics, loss and grief, social mores and morality weaving in and out of the pages so that I think The Sapphire Widow would repay several rereads too.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Sapphire Widow and found myself completely transported to another time and place. It’s another total success for Dinah Jefferies.
About Dinah Jefferies
Dinah Jefferies was born in Malaysia and moved to England at the age of nine. Her idyllic childhood always held a special place in her imagination, and when she began writing novels in her 60s, she was able to return there – first in her fiction and then on annual research trips for each new novel. Dinah Jefferies is the author of four novels, The Separation, The Tea Planter’s Wife – a Number One Sunday Times bestseller, The Silk Merchant’s Daughter and Before the Rains. She lives in Gloucestershire
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