Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: Olga - A Daughter's Tale by Marie-Therese Browne

Author: Marie-Therese Browne
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
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.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5


Olga -- A Daughter's Tale is a story rich with historical and cultural detail, intrigue, and family. It takes place during a very interesting time period in both Jamaica's and England's history. Besides being about family, love, and doing what it takes to get through tough circumstances, this is also a study on the character of people. There are all sorts of people represented in this novel, and it's interesting to see how their actions affect other people, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing.


However, I don't think the diary format was the best choice for this novel. First of all, the entries weren't dated -- not even a year was given, so I was confused as to when exactly events were taken place. Secondly, there were times when the descriptions or historical information didn't fit in with the voice of the person writing the entries. The benefit of having diary entries is that the reader gets to feel close to the character, and while I felt close to Olga near the end of the novel, I wasn't feeling that connection at the beginning. I think short stories, or even a chapter format would have been better.

Despite that, this is a great story. It's both heartbreaking and inspirational. And to know that this is non-fiction and not just a made up story makes it even better. Besides being a quick read (I couldn't put this book down!), it is an inspiring story. I like books that make me think after I've put them down and make me want to learn more about the stuff it brings up. I now have a few books on hold at my library about Jamaica and World War II in England, because I couldn't get them out of my head after reading this book.

This is a book everyone can appreciate, because it's about real life. We all have family drama (and Olga certainly has that!), and all our families have their quirks. We have all been in a tough spot at sometime or another, and we have all had to find our way out of that tough spot. That's what at the heart of this novel. One girl's path to becoming a woman, an event that changed her life, and the decisions she made after that. It's beautiful and it makes a good story. I am so glad Marie decided to write down her mother's tale.

*I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.*