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Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood

August 13, 2008

Rachel Manley was born in England to a European mother and a Jamaican father. When she was two and a half years old, her mother was ill, so she was sent to Jamaica to live with grandparents she had never met. In Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood ( published by Key Porter Books) she tells the story of her life with her grandparents.

There was nothing spectacular about the old wooden two-storey house set far back from the road. It was not even in a fashionable area, but rather poised precariously on the journey between the city and its ghettos, and the lofty slopes of the suburbs. It has often been described as elegant, but it was too visceral and self-willed a place to be so, for elegance is a product of control.

Drumblair is the house that sustained the Manleys, one of the premier families of Jamaica. Rachel’s grandfather, Norman Manley, was very active in national politics and instrumental in helping Jamaica achieve independence from British rule. He was elected the first Premier of Jamaica. Her grandmother, Edna, was an artist who supported her husband in his endeavors. They were both strong, loving, compassionate people. Rachel’s father, Michael, became active in one of the unions and politics, eventually becoming Prime Minister.

In Drumblair: Memories of a Jamaican Childhood , Rachel Manley gives us an inside peek of what it like to grow up in such a dynamic family. This book is her homage to them. This book won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction (a Canadian book award) in 1997.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2008 10:33 pm

    I’ve never heard of this book, nor have I read much about Jamaica. This sounds interesting!

  2. bermudaonion permalink*
    August 14, 2008 7:35 am

    I know what you mean. I never knew that Jamaica is a former British colony until I read this book.

  3. August 14, 2008 7:30 pm

    Sounds like a good memoir. Thanks for the review.

  4. September 6, 2008 8:01 pm

    I read this book a couple years ago. It was given to me by the author. Rachel is a very nice woman who lives in my neighbourhood.

  5. Carol Boeth permalink
    December 8, 2009 5:54 pm

    I am the VP of the (JCAA) Jamaica Caribbean Association Calgary. Please advise on how we can contact Ms Rachael Manley, as I would like to have her speak at one of our events in Calgary.


  6. twinlorna permalink
    January 3, 2010 8:35 pm

    A history lesson and portrait of a fascinating family.Every Jamaican should read this memoir to understand more of our history,mistakes and triumphs.

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