Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Olga: A Daughter's Tale: Review
Olga: A Daughter's Tale is the story of Carmen Browne. Written by her daughter, Marie-Therese Browne, it is gives readers the results of Marie's efforts to discovery her mother's history and whether she has any family living or not. Over the years, Marie's mother had steadfastly refused to tell her anything about her past, her family or Marie's father. And when her mother became seriously ill, Marie realized that she must begin researches on her own.
She soon learns that her mother's real name was Olga Browney and Olga had been born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. An advertisement in the local paper in Jamaica would bring Marie and her mother in contact with family that Olga had not seen in over 50 years. Further revelations disclosed that Olga was one of eleven children from a very close-knit family of mixed heritage. Olga's mother, Becky Ross, had braved the color prejudice of those times and married a black man--Henry Browney. This resulted in broken ties with Becky's family back in England and caused a rift with her sister Martha that would create even more damage later in life.
When Olga is a young woman, she goes to London in 1939 to stay with Martha--who has become a soured, malicious and drunken woman. The plan is for Olga to stay for only six months, but war comes to England and events and tragedy prevent Olga from making her way home. She attempts a career in nursing--but the tragedy strikes and Olga is forced to take servant positions to keep herself and now her small daughter alive.
This is a heart-breaking story about how cruelty and revenge is inflicted on Olga and and a heart-warming story about her valiant efforts to meet every hardship with head held high and with her customary gentleness. It is revealed to the reader through narrative, letters and diary entries. Olga was a remarkable woman who showed great courage and love for her little daughter. It is unfortunate that circumstances and misunderstandings kept her apart from her family for so long. The story is well-told and, were it not for work, I would have read it straight through. It is very touching as well as informative. I learned a lot about Jamaican life in the early 20th Century. I am very grateful to Marie-Therese Brown for the chance to read and review this incredible tribute to her mother. Four stars.
[Disclaimer: This book was sent to me as an advanced reader copy. My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate...This review copy was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]