Title: The Sapphire Widow
Author: Dinah Jefferies
Publisher: 5 April 2018 by Penguin Books (UK) Viking
Pages: 400 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance, womens fiction
My Rating: 3.5 cups
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...
‘I told him if Ceylon was where his heart belonged, it was where my heart would belong too.’
I was happy to read another Dinah Jefferies novel as you are guaranteed to be transported to some exotic location and time. The Sapphire Widow is set during the British occupation of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and vivid descriptions of the town of Galle are given. Dinah has this wonderful capacity to truly capture the feel and essence of times long gone. Her descriptions of everything from the bustling Colombo, to being lost in the jungle - you will experience it all: warm rain falling, splashing in the surf, watching fireflies and the inviting aroma of the spice trade.
This book is full of evocative detail about what life would have been like for expats living there and I truly enjoyed this aspect. Sadly, I did find the story itself surrounding Louisa and Elliot to be quite predictable. So whilst it reads wonderfully well in time and location, there are no real surprises here. The plot is straight forward and characters are lacking in depth, as little investment was provided to them - even the swindling bad guys came and went inconspicuously - connections were lacking.
The story is well constructed and I recommend escaping to Galle for a few hours. Credit has to be given to to the research undertaken with the atmosphere being palpable. Sadly though, with characters lacking emotional depth and no strong storyline, it is left as a pleasant escape alone. I wanted to feel the betrayal and hope that are the main themes of this story but it never really goes beyond the simplistic, only ever scratching the surface.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.