Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Olga - A Daughter's Tale

Olga - A Daughter’s Tale by Marie-Therese Brown
Published: December 2nd, 2007
Publisher: Independent
268 pages (paperback)
Genre: Non-fiction/biography/genealogy
Acquired this book: From the author in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May include spoilers

Synopsis: Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is a story about heritage, identity, and belonging. It’s one family’s experiences of hardship, discrimination and love. Set in Jamaica and London between the years of 1900 and post war England, the reader is taken on a journey with one family through history and cultural change.

Written with diary entries and letters, "Olga – A Daughter's Tale" is based on a true story about cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman and about her moral courage, dignity, resilience and, in particular, love. It is the story of a remarkable woman who because of circumstances made a choice which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica. That is, until nearly half a century later, when her past caught up with her.

Olga - A Daughter’s Tale is a story that spans several decades and several generations. It’s told through diary entries, letters, and telegrams by various members of the Browney (Brown) family between England and Jamaica.

I thought this was a really remarkable tale, especially knowing it was based on a true story. Olga had to overcome so many obstacles, and such adversity and prejudice. She was independent and courageous, a real fighter. She learned that life’s lessons are often difficult and painful, but she carried on and did what she had to do.

I learned a lot of really interesting things about life in Jamaica, as well as life in England during World War II. It was such an eye-opener to discover how different classes and different races were treated, and how they were perceived. But at the same time, it was inspiring to see how so many people rose above it all, carried on, and lived happy lives.

I wish the diary entries and letters had been dated, because I often found myself wondering when a certain event was taking place, and how long it had been since something else happened. There were also times when I had to think for a minute when the perspectives of the letters or diary entries changed, but it was also really nice to get different people’s perspectives and learn the story from different sources.

Olga - A Daughter’s Tale is a fascinating trip through time. I always enjoy hearing family histories, and this was no exception. This story is interesting, heartbreaking, inspirational, and real.

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