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Its precipitous, lushly-clad contours establish themselves firmly throughout the novel. Does Rudolf's subsequent life — we take leave of him in , past 70 and mindful of death — justify this ecstatic embrace of his future? Yes, and no. Some of those qualities that distinguished him as a virtuous but somehow unlovable youth assist him.

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Edith's Miscellany: Book Review: The Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse

He is unsparing of self and time in his acquisition of knowledge about different strains of tea plant, to which crop he adds quinine, increasingly in demand. He can put up uncomplainingly with a Spartan lifestyle, even when a married man conscientiously rearing children.

With his workforce he is something of a martinet, lacking the common touch possessed by his distinguished relations in Java's colonial establishment. But he's also fair, industrious and personally courageous. His unflinching morality never leads him seriously to question the Dutch presence in and exploitation of the East Indies, any more than he would abstain from killing wild animals.

Or waive his conjugal rights. His young sons, growing up in circumstances to match most boys' dreams, think him the greatest man in the world. But his wife, we learn, does not. Java-born, Jenny is aware of life's darker forces as its indigenous peoples are, and as Dutch-educated entrepreneurs like Rudolf are not. This awareness and its denial form a major theme in Dutch colonial literature.

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The depiction here of Jenny's psychological deterioration is both subtle and powerful. Translated into graceful prose, this morally challenging work, constructed from documents and letters, has already become a novel by which others, inside and outside its tradition, can be judged. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

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The Tea Lords

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Steve Coogan. Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Rugby League. Movers List. Geoffrey Macnab. Tech news. Tech culture. News videos. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death, his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value - of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history - and in doing so reclaims the significance of an individual life.

Sign in. Hidden fields. Top charts. New arrivals. The Tea Lords Hella S. Haasse September 1, Born into wealth and privilege, Rudolf Kerkhoven is destined to follow his father's footsteps into the Dutch colonies, with its uncleared jungle foothills and potential for riches. When he arrives in Java he is immediately smitten by the landscape and the life, and over the seasons, Rudolf's dedication and diligence gradually transform the land into a productive estate for tea, coffee and quinine. When he meets the independent-minded Jenny and their two sons are born, Rudolf is happier than he thought possible.

But for Jenny, the damp austerity of their home, her fertility, her father's secret, and the native spirits of the land grow to overshadow their marriage and the life they've strived for together. Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text, Google-generated PDF. Best For. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. Content Protection. Read Aloud. Flag as inappropriate. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.

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