Review by James Morley December 30th 2010. www.jimmorleybooks.com
I came across this book by chance and began to read it out of casual interest. Within a few pages I was hooked. This is a tale of a young girl growing up in 1930s Jamaica. Her mother, a well to do white girl breaks the ultimate taboo by marrying a black man thus sending the family into social oblivion from all sections of society. They survive and prosper helped by a strong Catholic faith. The descriptions of Jamaican life are vivid and colourful where Christianity is practiced alongside ancient African magic.
Just before the outbreak of WW2 Olga goes to London and meets her vindictive Aunt Martha. Olga trains as a nurse and witnesses the horror of the blitz. Then her life is destroyed. She is raped by a man she trusted and is left pregnant. Like so many victims Olga blames herself. Her nursing career is over and she has to take servants positions in wealthy white houses. The inpiration of this book lies in Olga's determination to see her daughter well educated. Olga feels her disgrace is such that she cannot return to Jamaica. She does not know that her vindictive aunt has told her family that Olga is dead. In fact her family back home would have been loving and supportive. I found this book moving and inspiring. Olga's lack of self-pity; her strength and refusal to hate is amazing. Both Olga and her daughter Marie, whose book this is, treat people first and foremost as people not as black and white. The authenticity of the book is shown in its use of letters and diaries from the period and some nice pen and ink drawings. This book is an important historical document and desrves to be better known.