Rudolf leaves his comfortable origins in Delft by ship for Java to help run the family's estates there. He moves from plantation to plantation, attempting to understand the ways of the local peoples, their version of Islam and their relationship to their land. On a visit to the capital, Jakarta, he falls in love with a teenage girl, Jenny, who he courts surreptitiously via his sister, with grave consequences for the reality of their relationships. Eventually they marry, and make a hard colonist-couple's life theirs, bear, lose and raise children, before Jenny on her visit to the home country discovers all the comforts of which she has been deprived in Java. Back at the plantation homestead, as the back-breaking work of establishing and maintaining business takes its toll on Rudolf, Jenny becomes estranged from him, and the bitter resentments of relatives eat at her until a terrible solution is achieved.
Year of Publication
Hella S. Haasse was born in 1918 in Batavia, modern-day Jakarta. She moved to the Netherlands after secondary school. She started publishing in 1945 and many of her books have gained classic status in the Netherlands. Haasse has received several prestigious literary awards, among them the Dutch Literature Prize in 2004, and her work has been translated into many languages. The Tea Lords is the first work of hers translated into English for 15 years. www.hellahaassemuseum.nl Ina Rilke translates Dutch, Flemish and French literature. Among the authors she has translated are Hafid Bouazza, Louis Couperus, W.F. Hermans, Erwin Mortier, Cees Nooteboom, Pierre Peju and Dai Sijie. She has won the Vondel Translation Prize, the Scott Moncrieff Prize, and the Flemish Culture Prize for literary translation.