Olga: A Daughter’s Tale by Marie-Therese Browne is a beautiful story of a Jamaican family at the turn of the 20th century. I did not expect to enjoy the book as much as I did. As it was, I could hardly put it down and finished it in a day.
Several themes are discussed in the book, including the fascinating history of Jamaica, that I knew nothing of and found very interesting. The class system of whites, coloreds and blacks really opened my eyes to prejudice world-wide.
Olga Browney’s family history is documented. Her white mother, from England, married a black man from Jamaica and was disowned by her parents, and for all intents and purposes, her sister, as well. They had eleven children with Olga being the third youngest, born in 1915. The family was wealthy by Jamaican standards.
In 1939, Olga goes to England to stay with her aunt, planning to stay for six months. When World War II erupts in Great Britain, her plans change and she enrolls in nursing school. An unexpected pregnancy forces her to abandon her nursing career. After baby Marie is born, Olga holds a series of jobs to support herself and her child. Olga refuses to tell her family in Jamaica about the baby and the circumstances of her birth, even when she is desperate for money.
This story is tragic not only in the events that occur, but because it is true. Olga’s courage and tenacity are admirable. I wish I could have met her.