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Heren van de thee

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,920 ratings  ·  120 reviews
In 1871 vertrok Rudolf Kerkhoven, een pas in Delft afgestudeerd 'chemisch technoloog', naar Indië, waarheen in de loop der jaren al ongeveer vijfendertig leden van zijn familie hem waren voorgegaan. Deze mensen, onder wie vele markante persoonlijkheden, vormden een clan die vol ondernemingslust, maar ook bezield van vooruitstrevende denkbeelden, in het wingewest Oost-Indië ...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published 1992 by Querido
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3.68  · 
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 ·  1,920 ratings  ·  120 reviews

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I love LOVE Hella Haasse, the grande dame of Dutch literature, in the top 5 for sure for me of best writers ever in The Netherlands. Again, this book is not easy and it does not 'move' a lot. So, in the wrong mindset, I could find it boring and slowmoving. However, I learned, with Haasse, you need to take your time and saviour the words and the pages and let the story grow on you. So I took my time, even if it was a few pages only before going to sleep. I grew to love the book, a rather emotiona ...more
Christina ~ Brunette Reader
In the excerpt from a 1959 letter to her brother, posed as a prelude to the book, Bertha de Rijck van der Gracht-Kerkhoven affirms that, contrary to common belief, a meaningful view on the past can often be achieved through the usually overlooked ‘side-lights’, those details and glances delving into everyday vicissitudes and feelings, only apparently trivial and instead able to keep the focus broad and narrow at the same time. In this spirit and thanks to private documents, journals and letters ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tea Lords was written by Hella Haasse. Are you familiar with her novels? She's written many. Haasse lives in the Netherlands and published her first novel in 1945. So what's that? 66 years ago. In those 66 years this is only her fourth book to make it into English and only three of these four have been published in the U.S. That's sad for readers of first rate historical fiction but maybe an opportunity for a publisher.

Dutch colonialism in the East Indies (now Indonesia) is the setting for T
Tim Hannigan
My Jakarta Globe review of The Tea Lords

The Tea Lords by Hella S. Haasse “is a novel, but it is not ‘fiction’”, writes the author in a vital note, tucked away at the very end of the book. Factual histories often focus on the big figures – princes, revolutionaries and governors-general – and leave the lives of the bit players to writers of historical fiction. The Tea Lords, straddling the strange gap between these genres, focuses on the “side-lights” of Indonesia’s colonial past – the lives, love
Caitriona H
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it impossible not to wonder how much is been lost in between the words of the different languages. Speaking only one fluently but dabbling in a couple of others has taught me there’s some phrases unique to a national voice which are absent in others, and although it’s more difficult to spot them in the printed page, it’s still fun to look.

The Tea Lords is colonial historical ‘fiction’ (it’s based on real documents). I concentrated on this subject as a student, so I kept drawing comparison
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
A friend gave a copy of the English version of this book as a farewell present (well it's more like she had to give away her books prior to moving back to her country) but it took me two years before I finally decided to read it. How I wish I'd read it sooner! I admit that the reason why I enjoy the story so much is rather subjective, since I was born and raised in Bandung. The lush depiction of Priangan landscapes of the late 18th century and the romantic feeling it brought me is why I gave it ...more
❀ Sabina
Apr 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommended to ❀ Sabina by: Dutch teacher
"Heren van de thee" by Hella S. Haase
Read: 2009

April 24, 2015

As a recommendation by my Dutch teacher from high school, I’ve read ‘Heren van de Thee’ by Hella S. Haase somewhere in 2009. She told us to ask her for recommendations for our Dutch literature portfolio, which I gladly did. She asked me what kind of books I liked and I told her: history, books that take some time to read, books that made me think and that was it. She asked me some other questions and eventually she advised me this one
I chose this book for a ‘readalong’ as part of Dutch Literature Month at Iris on Books because as a former teacher of Indonesian language, I’ve been to Indonesia and know a bit about their history and culture. The Tea Lords is about a Dutch colonist who in 1870 follows his father’s footsteps and develops a tea estate in Bandung, but it was written in 1992 (well after the Declaration of Indonesian Independence in 1945), so I thought it would offer an interesting post-colonial Dutch perspective. B ...more
❀ Hana

This is my first attempt reading the history of colonialism in Java from the Dutch point of view. Coming from a neighbouring country (Malaysia), I am more familiar with the British colonialism literatures.

This book basically sums the history of a big Dutch family tea planters, which plantations located in a few places such as Ardjasari, Gambong, Malabar and Perakan Salak. Even though designed as a novel, it is actually based on a true story. Contrary to my early expectation, this book air
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book, for several reasons:
1. It is very well written.
2. I grew up in an area mentioned in this book! But I never ever once knew anything about who started those tea plantations and what effort they put in it. It is really interesting to know the history of the plantations and also in a way of the area where I grew up!
3. The book also gives me more perspective on the dutch colonials. It is amazing to know that some Dutch did learn to speak Sundanese!
I wish I could
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dar-book-club
I knew virtually nothing about the colonial period in Indonesia, so I really felt like I learned a lot. The book was very well written, at times you felt like you were inside Rudolf's mind- it was so interesting. I enjoyed learning something new and being exposed to this whole different kind of book.
Sorayya Khan
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The novel is a recreation of Dutch colonial time in Java--and the setting is depicted so beautifully and exactly, that it is sometimes possible to imagine walking beside the characters. It's a story of a plantation and of what it took for a family to survive (or not) in that world during this moment of history, but of course, only from the perspective of the colonizer. The narrative is constructed around documents and letters from the Indies Tea and Family Archive that were made available to the ...more
Mar 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting glimpse into the tea trade and Durtch colonialism
Jan Cornelis
This story is composed of letters from the family archive of a Dutch family who where thee field owners on Java when Indonesia was still colonial . The protagonist is Rudolf, an aristocratic and disciplined man who is building is own thee field. The book starts with a quote from Bertha, his youngest child, who states that the facts are dead but letters have the power to bring the persons alive by telling the thoughts and emotions of the people. In that way we can relive the customs of the past.

Tet Roberts
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, history
Last week I went for a weekend hike south of Bandung near Malabar mountains. The Malabar guest house in fact is the location where RAK Bosscha, the nephew of leading character Rudolph Kerkhove is leading their successful tea plantations. The surrounding is stunningly beautiful and Bosscha has indeed done a great job for his uncle since the tea still grows here in any available piece of soil.

The novel is true history based on the letters written in between the family and Hella Haase made it read
Neither fish nor fowl This is a fiction book based on fact and is in fact less fiction than many non-fiction books I've read over time (many of them extrapolate conversations etc). It's a pretty mundane life of a man from the Netherlands who becomes a tea and quinine planter in Indonesia.  His life is full of ups and downs and things become complicated when family, business and politics are mixed.  Overall I was fairly underwhelmed and had to almost force myself to go back to it.  I mean it was ...more
Much preferred the first half of the book, with all the character development and deep thoughts, rather than the latter half which sped through events without much detail. Still such an interesting book & beautiful translation!
Walda Mees
May 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gives a good idea of past times, when Indonesia was still a dutch colony, by following some families and their ups and downs.
The author was born there so is very familiar with the land and loves it very much, you can tell.
Aileen Ng
Interesting read about prominent Dutch families who cultivated tea in Java. Historically written and revolve around the 18 century. This book was originally written in Dutch but later was translated to English.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something intriguing about reading family letters, everyday happenings and personal stories of people from the bygone era. It is interesting how 200 years later we have the same personal struggles, misunderstandings and yearn for luxuries.
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on the archives of a Dutch tea plantation family who lived in Indonesia in the early 1800's. Focuses on one son who carved his own plantation from the jungle, and his struggle with both family and the elements.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
An excellent chronicle of the family of a tea planter on Java in the Dutch colonial era. Very well written and moving.
rambling, day to day life of an uninteresting family growing tea. big events in history seem to just pass them by with hardly a mention.
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well told story based on fact. Could smell the Indonesian plantation.
Based on true journals and letters.

One day. I'd love to viist Gambung.
Oward Bodie
Fascinating portrait of Dutch plantation life in the late 19th century. Interesting to read this alongside Pramoedya's "This Earth of Mankind".
Annemiek Cortjens
Sep 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Very nice. It actually deserves 3.5 stars. I look forward to reading more by Hella S. Haasse.
Laura Jager
I liked the book at the beginning, but I found the last part terrible. Overall I really liked the book, I'm only dissapointed in the ending.
Farah Fitria Sari
I now understand why Haase is called the grand old lady of Dutch lit. Can't wait to read Oeroeg.
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Hella S. Haasse (1918 - 2011) was born in Batavia, modern-day Jakarta. She moved to the Netherlands after secondary school. In 1945 she debuted with a collection of poems, entitled Stroomversnelling (Momentum). She made her name three years later with the novella given out to mark the Dutch Book Week, Oeroeg (The Black Lake, 1948). As with much of her work, this tale of the friendship between a Du ...more
“Als temperamenten verschillen, zei Papa, helpt liefde geen zier!” 0 likes
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