Olga - A Daughter's Tale

Rated 4.76/5 based on 18 reviews
Based on a true story. Set in Kingston and England when Jamaica was the jewel in the crown of the British Empire, ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ is the saga of one family’s history, heritage and culture - obeah, a form of witchcraft. It is the story of an innocent young woman and how world events, personal tragedy and malicious intent all combined to separate her from her beloved family. More
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Words: 51,420
Language: English
ISBN: 9781452394770
About Marie-Therese Browne (Marie Campbell)

I'm a glass half full UK dame who emigrated to Australia in 2007. Olga - A Daughter's Tale is my first book and was written as a tribute to my mother Olga and also so that future generations of my family will know something of their heritage.

In 1994 my mother Carmen Browne was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton seriously ill. As she slowly recovered I realised had she died so, also, would the chance for me to find out about our past, her family in Jamaica and, of great importance to me, who my father was, information she had resolutely refused to share with me. So I decided to find out for myself.

My first discovery was that my mother was in fact Olga Browney, born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and one of eleven children from a close-knit coloured Catholic family. A kind, naive and gentle girl, Olga came to London in 1939 to live with her malevolent, alcoholic aunt and intending to stay only six months. But world events, personal tragedy and malicious intent all combined to prevent her from returning to her family in Kingston.

Based on a true story and written using diary entries and letters, "Olga – A Daughter's Tale" is 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.


Review by: Hannah Hummel on Oct. 26, 2011 :
I loved this book because it had a very interesting plot.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Siobian Minish on Oct. 18, 2011 :
Olga is a young woman living in Jamaica and is the daughter of a Jamaican man and a white woman. When she has the opportunity to study dance in England, she seizes the opportunity expecting only to stay for a few months. However, when WWII begins, she is unable to return to Jamaica and instead decides to take up nursing. During her training, she is raped by an army doctor and finds herself pregnant which forces her to give up of her idea of becoming a nurse. Olga keeps her child, but does not return to Jamaica or let her family know because of her fear of bring shame to them.

Olga is told through actual newspaper clippings, diary entries, and letters, which usually I am not a fan of. I typically prefer narratives; however, I felt that the epistolary style really helped tell this story better. It helped to remind me throughout that everything I was reading about actually occurred and that these were real people. The diary entries also helped to explain what was going on in London during the war and showed a little of what it must have been like to be fearful of the bombs falling. I haven't read many stories set in Jamaica and Olga helped me to understand how similar it was to London and the US in terms of a large emphasis being placed on class, race, or even how dark your skin was. I really felt for Olga as I read about all she went through, but felt that she was such a strong woman. She didn't give up and tried to provide the best she could for her child, who is the author of this book. This was a very quick, but emotional read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Jessica Bronder on Oct. 11, 2011 :
We start the story with an English couple, John and Lucy Sinclair, as they travel to Jamaica to start a new life. While there, Lucy convinces her sisters Martha and Becky to come visit. While on a visit, Becky falls in love with Henry, a black man, of course this is frowned upon and the Browne’s become the talk of everyone. Martha feels her chance to make a living is ruined by Becky’s imprudence and returns to London.

Becky has 11 children from Henry but the marriage ends in divorce. Of the younger children, Olga is one of them. Olga recounts events around her family and in Jamaica. She then goes to London to live with her alcoholic auth Martha while trying to apply at a dance school. When she is turned down, she meets another lady from Jamaica that inspirers her to become a nurse around the time of World War II. After a tragic event, Olga is kicked out of nursing school.

Because of the event, she feels she has brought shame on her family and cuts her ties with them. Olga then goes on to make a living no matter what she faced. At times her life is tough when money is low and it seems like people look down on her for the color of her skin. But she never gives up hope.

Marie, Olga’s daughter, writes this story from journal entries, newspaper article, and interviews with her family. I am impressed with how Olga got through everything that was put in front of her. She is an inspiration to women everywhere. I have no complaints to the story. This is a great story that you will want to read.

I received this story free from the author for an honest review. Thank you for the privilege of letting me read it.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Mike Davis on Sep. 24, 2011 :
This is essentially the author's research to learn the history of her own mother who left Jamaica, lived in England and died with a sense of personal shame. It is a bit slow getting started but ends as with a poignant sense of dismay, sadness and pride. It is not a novel in any sense of the word, but an interesting history from the pages of ethnic humanity and a daughter's quest to reveal her mother's secrets.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Michele Minor on Aug. 31, 2011 :
This is tale of both Jamaica and England. Olga in born in Jamaica to a white mother and a black father which was frowned upon in the twenties and thirties in Jamaica. The writer does show the color prejudice in the book,even among the blacks where they are broken up into the blacks who are darker skinned and the coloureds who are lighter skinned and are of a higher social class. There is also a double standard in Jamaica where white men can have babies with black or coloured women but it is frowned upon for a white woman to have a baby with a black or coloured man. When Olga is raped during World War II in London and then becomes pregnant by her rapist we see how single never married moms are looked down upon in that society even if the woman was raped. England was moralistic as well during this time since a young woman could get kicked out of nursing school for getting pregnant out of wedlock and there was no sex education for young women at the time. This book is a good commentary of British and Jamaican society in the thirties and the forties.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Danette Dorsey on Aug. 05, 2011 :
This is the kind of book that makes you want to curl up on your favorite chair with a glass of iced tea and become captivated for a few hours. I read this book over the course of two evenings and absolutely enjoyed it. Olga - A Daughter's Tale is a must read.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Kyria Wilson on July 30, 2011 :
This is a story of both England and Jamaica, the people and cultures of both countries and the racism that existed there during the early 1900s. Olga, the daughter of a White English woman and a Black Jamaican man, goes to London to study dance and ends up living in London as a colored single woman during WWII. She has some hardships due to her race and her social status but gets through them in the end.

I liked this book. It is written in journal entry form, both from the viewpoint of Olga, who is the main character, as well as her mother, Becky and her Aunt Lucy. It also has a few newspaper articles and letters from others thrown in. It flows easily and I did keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

It talks about the prejudices of color in Jamaica, even between blacks and coloreds, who were the lighter skinned blacks. It speaks of obeha, or voodoo, and how it was outlawed in Jamaica for a long time. It talks about the war and some of the stresses there were being in London at the time.

This book was thought provoking. I always like hearing a story in a voice that I can understand. Olga’s voice was just right.

I give this book at 4 out of 5.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Mel H on July 16, 2011 :
Olga- A Daughters Tale is a story told through letters, diary entries and newspaper articles.

It is about Olga Browney, the ninth of eleven children. Born in 1915 to an English mother and a Jamaican father.

Olga- A Daughter’s Tale is about life as a coloured Jamaican and the struggle with racism and disadvantages.

Jamaica in those times (1900s to World War 2) was very much like London with the emphasis on class. White Jamaicans were always looking down on the coloured and black Jamaicans and they had less opportunities.

Olga- A Daughter’s Tale was written by Olga’s daughter Marie who researched her family after a long separation.

The story is quite sad is many ways, Olga fell pregnant and separated herself from her family to protect them the scandal of an unwed mother and child.

She worked many years as a servant to wealthy English families to provide Marie with a good education and opportunities. But in doing so denied herself the loving support of her mother, father and 10 siblings.

I didn’t realise at first that this was a true story but when I realised that Marie was Olga’s daughter, it made it more emotional for me, so real.

This was such a wonderful book to read and I highly recommend it to other readers who enjoy biographies, war time stories or just non fiction in general.

I would like to thank Library Thing for the donation of this book, it was sent to me through the Member’s Giveaways program.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: njmom3 on July 13, 2011 :
An amazing story of the history of a place, a family, and one amazing woman - Olga. It's even more amazing because it's a true story. The story takes us from Jamaica to England and through a lifetime. It is a story of courage and of love of family. A great tribute written by Marie Campbell to honor her mother. I loved it! Thank you for sharing your mother's story with us.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Margaret (Literary Chanteuse) on July 09, 2011 : (no rating)
This is a wonderful family legacy type story that I truly enjoyed! It gave an insight to early Jamaican colonial days and much that it's people endured. One Of my favorite books this year!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Whea on July 08, 2011 :
Olga - A Daughter's Tale is told through diary entries of various women, letters, and telegrams. Each reveals a simple picture, and when put together, you have an album of an amazing woman's life.

It had me weeping and laughing out loud in turns, and by the end, I felt I knew Olga/Carmen, even though I was born nearly a century after her.

Sacrifice, injustice, and courage abound in this book, along with malice, greed, and fear.

Read this book.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Lisa on July 04, 2011 :
What an amazing story! This book starts with Lucy Sinclair, a young wife who moves from England to Jamaica with her husband. Her sisters soon follow, and younger sister Becky soon creates a bit of a scandal by marrying a black man. Becky has 11 children, and this is where Olga's story begins. Olga is a sweet girl who always wants to be good, but she is a bit naive at times. Her family goes through their own adventures and scandals. Olga goes to England and eventually becomes stranded due to World War II. In England she endures the trials and tragedy of war, along with a few personal problems that occur. Throughout it all Olga remains remarkably resilient and courageous. She is determined to do the best she can at all she does, and she manages to take care of herself even in dire circumstances.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is that it is a true story. The story is told through a series of letters, newspaper clippings, and diary entries. I found this to be a marvelous way to get into the different character's personalities. I enjoyed this way of telling the story. I found it to be an effective way to tell everything that happened without unnecessary amounts of long exposition. There were many topics of great interest to me. Olga's life was made much more difficult by the racism she faced in Jamaica and England. Another very interesting part to me were the descriptions of life in London during the war. You get a feel for how frightening it must have been to try and go on with your life while bombs were falling.

I enjoyed this book so much, and it really makes me want to go look into my family history. While I may not have relatives with a life as exciting as Olga's, I certainly think there are stories of interest to me. This book was very interesting and quick to read. It shows the good and bad parts of what happened to a family, and Olga persevered through it all. Olga is a remarkable woman, and I'm glad that I got to read her story.

Book provided by author for review.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Cindy Borgne on June 03, 2011 :
This story is a great read that brings with it wisdom to be gained based on real life events. It’s not your typical novel because it’s told through a series of letters and diary entries. At first I didn’t think that this format would interest me, but the more I read the more I found it compelling.

Most of the diary entries and letters are from three women: Lucy, Becky and Olga. Through their eyes, I learned interesting and well described details about Jamaican beliefs and customs. I also learned what it was like in England during World War Two. The three women are likable and down to earth types. Lucy and Becky were originally from England and it was interesting to see how they adapted to Jamaica. They even became somewhat caught up in the dark magic practiced by Jamaicans.

The women all experience hard times, and Olga is the one who had the roughest life. There were times she frustrated me, but overall her courage and determination amazed me. Even after I was done reading, I couldn’t help thinking about her and what she accomplished considering her situation.

If you’re looking for the intensity of the typical genre novel, this isn’t it. The format (diaries and letters) basically means the story is told, and telling always tones down any intensity. Yet, I continued to want to get back to it. The strongest points about this story are that it’s about real people, and therefore the characterization is excellent. The story is so well written it puts you right into the time period and locations. Readers who enjoy history and genealogy are going to be especially interested. I highly recommend it.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: denilew on March 26, 2011 :
An Excellent book, very moving story,well worth reading
(review of free book)

Review by: Freddles on Jan. 11, 2011 :
"Like a movie!" Fascinating true story, a very touching and moving book about an inspirational personal life, and which has an epic feel about it, from Jamaica to England amidst World War II !
Can't help but thinking that it's screaming "Make a movie of it, make a movie of it!!".
(review of free book)

Review by: stuart1969 on Jan. 10, 2011 :
Loved it!" The story of Olga is the very emotional real life story of an incredible young girl who leaves her family in Jamaica and settles in London, having planned to attend a dance school. It doesn’t all go as planned though and Olga falls on some very hard and extremely emotional times, yet despite being timid and naive, she always manages to pull through.

It’s an incredibly powerful tale – I absolutely loved it and am left wanting to know more about the wonderful Olga and her young daughter Marie. In addition to learning about this remarkable woman, the book - whilst moving from one generation of the family to the next – provides you with some fascinating historical and cultural facts about Jamaica and London.
(review of free book)

Review by: james morley on Dec. 31, 2010 :
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.
(review of free book)

Review by: Romance Girl on Dec. 23, 2010 :
The book starts with a brief history of Jamaica. There is just enough history given so the reader knows what is happening and why; but does not smother you with so much it is boring. The major portion of the book is done in a diary format with entries by Olga's Aunt Lucy, her mother Becky and Olga herself. The entries were very well done and each one flowed nicely into the next. There were also pictures scattered throughout the book which I found quite effective in bringing the story to life.

The story line was never dull. The history of this family and how they evolved was quite amazing. You have interracial marriage in a time and place where it just wasn't done. There is murder, voodoo, racial prejudice not only by the whites; but also those of color. This is only the beginning. You will have to read the book for yourself because I don't want to give away the story.

I wish to thank Marie Campbell, (Marie-Therese Browne), for asking me to read and review her book. I must also thank Carol Bridgestock for giving my name to Marie and recommending me. I only hope I will have done the book justice. I have to say that this is not my usual type of read. I generally go for "no brainer" reads. I read for fun and enjoyment and don't want to think about what I am reading. This book pulled me in from the very start. I could not put it down. I got completely caught up in the history of this family. Even though I kind of knew where the story was headed, I was still thrown a little off guard at the end. This book can easily be read in one sitting and I highly recommend it
(review of free book)

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