'A compelling piece of innovative historical fiction' --Sunday Times
'An affecting portrait of a life devoted to duty, which asks whether the sacrifice was worth the emotional costs' --Financial Times
'This morally challenging work has already become a novel by which others, inside and outside its tradition, can be judged' --Independent
`A moving, densely textured book which deserves the status it has already achieved in the Netherlands' --Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller
'Haasse's stories derive an unostentatious strength from her steady, irresistible immersion in her characters' lives'
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.
Lusciously atmospheric and masterfully drawn, this is an unforgettable story of aspiration, determination, rivalry and romance on a tropical plantation.