on 15 July 2011
What a poignant true tale.
A young Jamaican girl, whose mother was white, and father black, goes to England just before the outbreak of WW2 in the hope of becoming a dancer.
The dance school cannot accept her, and so she turns instead to nursing, a career that she loves. She longs to qualify and return to her family in Jamaica and make them proud of her.
Naive, religious, timid, she becomes the victim of a callous encounter, and with an illegitimate child she can no longer be accepted as a nurse. She must find ways and means to support her little girl, and is prepared to endure any humiliation as long as she can give her child a good education. She is too ashamed to let her family in Jamaica learn what has happened to her.
Her story is written by her daughter, mainly in diary form. Olga suffers because of the colour of her skin, but also receives much kindness from nursing staff and people with influence. However, with a small child, finding work and keeping a job is not easy. Throughout her ordeals she shows no sign of self-pity or bitterness. She gets on with her life as best she can to raise her child.
I can't remember where I saw this book mentioned; I think it was on Facebook, but I am so glad that I followed up and bought it. I became so attached to Olga that I have written to her daughter to ask for further news about her, so I think the author has done an excellent job of portraying a memorable woman of great dignity and courage.
on 12 May 2012
This book tells Olga's story - from her family home in Jamaica to the war torn London streets where she hopes to become a dancer. Her aspirations change during her story; she changes direction and begins her nurse training but is unable to continue due to the actions of another person... she gives birth to her illegitimate daughter, Marie, and the remainder of the book details the sacrifices Olga willingly made for her daughter.
It is a beautifully written story; all the more poignant for being true. The story is revealed via letters and diary entries and the narrative is strong as a result. The author's ability to tell her story is shown in every single page.
The very few formatting errors in the book did not detract from the book which I highly recommend.
I loved this book and marvel at the bravery of Olga, bringing up her illegitimate daughter at a time when that was most definitely not the done thing, with the added pressure of being of mixed race (her mother was white, her father black) at a time when people were not as racially tolerant as they are now. The book really puts across well the story about she coped with trying to earn a living as well as dealing with prejudice. She was truly inspirational. I particularly loved the part of the book set in Jamaica and the story of her parents. The writing has really brought out the whole caribbean atmosphere and way of life in a wonderful way, filled with colourful vibrant characters. My only regret about this book was that for me it ended far too soon, I would love to have known how she lived for the rest of her life.
on 8 February 2011
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.
on 1 October 2012
An interesting memoir related through the diaries and letters of a Jamaican family from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. A mix of trials and tribulations generate pathos, fear and shame primarily from the main character - Olga. I found it fairly light reading and well described, giving the reader the opportunity to be involved with the culture that drives the story.
on 21 February 2012
I've just finished reading this & I have to start by saying I encourage everyone to read it.
It is written via diaries & letters by Marie's own family during 1900 - 1950's which make it an extraordinary view into the lives of these people.
I have learnt so much from this angle that I just wouldn't have learnt from a history book or autobiography.
It was a real eye opener to learn of the class system then in Jamaica, where coloured's viewed blacks as below them. There are some very interesting notes in the diaries relating to this & so much more but I don't want to mention too much incase I spoil the read for you.
The book will tug at your heart, & you will feel moments of anger & joy, compassion & pain. But above all admiration for Olga.
The story will show you what it was like to live in Jamaica & England during 1900-1950 for this family & the events of a mixed race marriage.
I have only touched upon a little of what this book holds & tells. There is so much.
I'm so glad I found it & read it.