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Heren van de thee by Hella S. Haasse
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Heren van de thee (edition 2002)

by Hella S. Haasse

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4771021,645 (3.75)6
Member:Blogletter
Title:Heren van de thee
Authors:Hella S. Haasse
Info:Amsterdam Querido 2002
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Nederlandse literatuur

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The Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse

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Dutch (6)  English (4)  All languages (10)
Showing 4 of 4
I had a hard time getting into this book, but once I did I enjoyed it. I learned a lot of Dutch Colonial history I did not know. Dutch colonialism in the East Indies (now Indonesia) is the setting for The Tea Lords. Rudolf Kerkhoven, a young rule follower from Holland, goes to the East Indies in the 1870's to join his Father's tea plantation.

The life of tea planter in the Dutch West-Indies Rudolf Kerkhoven, based on real letters and other documents, though impressive by the hardships he encounters, is not very mysterious or filled with big worldly events. The way Haasse depicts his character and his interactions with others, however, kept me intrigued, but not hooked. The author has a unique writing style. If you are interested in Colonial history this book is worth reading. ( )
  HaleyWhitehall | Jan 20, 2013 |
This novel, based on private correspondence and other documents within a family living in Java in the 19C and growing tea and quinine, took some getting in to. It seemed quite dry and difficult and the main character, Rudolph, was a serious young man who it was difficult to have much sympathy with. He didn't seem to be a bad person, just very dry.
The novel did become more engaging for me as he moved to his own plantation and started a family; with this wider network of characters there was more life to the novel. Rudolph's jealousy of his siblings becomes clear and he is constantly comparing how his parents treat him and his brother.
This book gives some interesting insights into life in what was Java in the later half of the 19C. ( )
  Tifi | Oct 28, 2012 |
Finally a good historical novel (‘faction’) in Dutch, though I read it in English. Good translation. Why did I violate my principle to read authors as much as possible in their native language? Hmm, I got the impression that the hopelessly irritating, long sentences in Dutch distract me from the beauty of the prose and storyline. My impression is that there are very few Dutch authors, who can write Dutch in a concise, poetic style. Most Dutch authors simply can’t write. So this was a test. And indeed I very much appreciate Haasse’s novel on an extended family of Dutch patriarchs engaged in the Tea plantation business in the Preanger, the central Highlands in west Java, in the late 19th century. I love the principal idea informing the novel. Based on family letters, records and photographs Hella reconstructs and romanticises the life of one tea planter, from his frugal start after a study in civil engineering in Delft, to his expansion into five different tea/quinine estates linked to his person and his offspring. The story unfolds through 6 acts: (1) first day on the plantation (1873-Gamboeng); (2) scenes of preparation (preceding 1); (3) clearance and planting; (4) the couple; (5) the family (longest by far); (6) the last day at Gamboeng (1918). The style in which Haasse writes varies: mainly a third person narrative with Rudolf as main character; interspersed with letters; sometimes she takes a family photograph as the key to a scene. Rudolf Kerkhoven is the main character, but his brothers August and Julius, his wife Jenny and later his only daughter Bertha also make up important characters. Whilst Haasse succeeds, I think, in creating a well-written, crafty reconstruction of a Dutch tea planters life and the contradictions and flawed idealism of the Dutch colonial experience on Java, she fails completely in creating a credible account of the Indonesian population’s experience of the same. So the whole story pivots around the Dutch settlers and their petty disputes, worries, and successes. A final word of praise concerns Haasse’s elegant treatment of the sacrifices made by the female characters in the story: that is often an underplayed feature of many other writers engaging with historical ‘faction’. ( )
  alexbolding | Dec 12, 2011 |
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Book description
In 1873 komt een jonge Nederlandse chemisch technoloog aan in Java, waar zijn ondernemende en vooruitstrevende familie plantages bezit. Hij begint een eigen plantage, Gamboeng, die zijn leven gaat beheersen. Ook nadat hij uit liefde is getrouwd met de levendige, gevoelige Jenny blijft alles in het teken van het afgelegen Gamboeng staan. Pas na haar zelfmoord in 1907 gaat hij begrijpen hoezeer hij haar en anderen te kort heeft gedaan en zichzelf heeft geïsoleerd door zijn onbuigzaamheid. Hella Haasse (1918), vooral bekend door haar historische romans waarin feit en fictie knap zijn verwerkt, groeide op op Java. Zij weet de sfeer van het eiland dan ook uitstekend op te roepen in deze mooie roman. Uitgaande van bestaande correspondentie en documenten, en in de van haar bekende zorgvuldige stijl, beschrijft ze fragmentarisch en uiterst boeiend de ontwikkeling van de hoofdpersonen. Dit boek werd genomineerd voor de AKO-literatuurprijs 1993. Paperbackeditie; kleine druk.
(Biblion recensie, Drs. M.A.H. de Swart
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Rudolf leaves his 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 people, 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.… (more)

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