By Deanne Heron on 5 Nov 2014
Daisy McIntosh is a fascinating, sometimes painful, look at life in Jamaica just prior to and following the 1962 Independence from Britain. The story is written against the backdrop of colonial Jamaica with the two very different, yet intertwined lifestyles of blacks and whites co-existing, with the thread throughout of sexual gratification and constant vying for social and economic success and status.
Panton is an excellent story teller who is familiar with the landscape and lives he writes about. Reading his story gives one a sense of being a ‘fly on the wall’, so vivid are the descriptions. The reader is allowed to soak up a captivating if deliberately hidden or forgotten culture of the Jamaican people, good and bad. For anyone born in rural Jamaica, this is a nostalgic journey down memory lane. It highlights the informal Jamaican social care system provided by the extended family and step parents. This is a system with mixed outcomes in most cases of which many Jamaicans today are a product.
Daisy McIntosh takes a look at complex human emotions and relationships. The relationships between the characters May, Soldier and Daisy highlights the fact that relationships may appear one way to the outsider but in reality can be very different to those in the know.
Chapter 10 highlights the importance of etiquette and good manners which others outside of Jamaican culture are often unaware of. It also shows the no nonsense directness and sharp tongue for which Jamaicans are well known. I found myself nodding in agreement and smiling at the eccentricities of Jamaican people, illustrated by statements such as: “She adjusted to the fact every hot drink was called a tea: bush tea from a variety of local plants, ginger tea, coffee tea, cocoa tea, and, of course, green tea.”
Daisy McIntosh pulls back a veil on the day-to-day lives of that era in a time which previously very few have written about with such knowledge and in-depth attention to the details of the lives of Caribbean people across the social classes. The importance placed on a good education, hard work and the right connections for success are pervading themes. Also how childhood trauma can haunt us into adulthood. From illicit sex, competing for status and respect to religion, no subject is taboo for Panton who tells it like it is, airing skeletons of history long locked away in cupboards. The story reminded me that sometimes when we look in the mirror, we don’t like what we see but it doesn’t make what we see any less true.
I sometimes found the variety of characters and their relationships a little confusing but on reflection found it perfectly mimicked the relationships and struggles Jamaican people often find themselves in during day-to-day life. I slowly got to know who was who and their place in the scheme of things, just as Jamaicans and all descendants of slaves have had to learn to get to know their environment and adapt to make sense of their lives. Other underlying themes throughout the book are the subtle echoes of the damaging influences of slavery and the self- gratifying colonial masters. This is a highly recommended intriguing ‘who dunnit’ of murder, rape and complex relationship, with an ending that takes readers completely by surprise.
When thirteen-year-old Daisy is taken from her home to save her from suspected sexual advances by her stepfather, her world opens up in unforeseen ways. Her aunt Ruth entices her with the promise of a new life and opportunities, but the cost may just be more than the young girl can endure.
Daisy McIntosh is the harrowing novel set around a Jamaican plantation about one young woman who must accept the disturbing truth of her past. Probing the trauma of sexual abuse, this enthralling, unflinching novel reveals its horrific price, as well as invincible possibility for redemption that comes with profound emotional pain and surprising involvement of the plantation owners.
By BevF on 27 Sep 2014
There are many girls and boys who have had an unpleasant start in life, for Daisy it was being abused by adults who should have shown her love and kindness as a parent does to a child.
Despite all the dreadful moments she suffered Daisy triumphed over adversity, after being given the opportunity to excell at school. Travel the journey with her each step of the way, encourage her, and applaud as she achieves the highest grades in her exams and cheer her triumph at finally reaching her goal.
The author takes us from a typical Jamaican countryside district through to the challenges she faced in Kingston and ends with her brief return to where it all began. A very good read.
By Beverrley Chung on 23 Nov 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A truly good, absorbing read, not only covering the abuse of a young girl but cleverly covering the period with an insight into the history, landscape and social diversity prevalent in Jamaica around that time. Read how Daisy rises from her despair with hope and tenacity.
A Young Girl’s Coming-Of-Age in Jamaica. 10 Jan 2015
By Howard Lipman
Format: Kindle Edition
In this stunning heartfelt novel the author presents us with Daisy McIntosh, a thirteen year old girl growing up in the Plummers district, and The Dalbeattie Plantation, owned by Kenny and Morag Sanderson. Amidst well-written descriptions of the landscape we learn about the history and background of the owners of the plantation, and about the unusual familial relationships of the dark-skinned people who either are servants directly of the plantation, or those who provide services for the Plummers district. It is a place where some of the children don’t know who their real fathers are, a place where the sexual mores of some of the characters are questionable. Grandmothers and Great-grandmothers often make a decision on who the father of a child might be. Daisy is perhaps on the lowest rung of the ladder, a Cinderella in every way. We learn to love her and root for her. There are those who love her…Martha and May…but what are they to do in this seemingly dysfunctional environment. The plot is very real, and many readers will imagine what it’s like to be Daisy. That’s where the plot becomes intense. I won’t reveal any more of the plot except to say that the author is a first rank writer in every way, and I thank him for writing this passionate novel…An exotic background and a well thought out plot Two Thumbs up and Five stars!
A Disturbing Tale Of Lost Innocence. 1st February 2015
By Glenville Asby
Roger H. Panton's Daisy McIntosh is an unnerving tale set in Jamaica. Against the backdrop of rural living, decades ago, is an unspeakable haunting conjured by a culture where machismo and misogyny have laid siege on innocence and cowed the conscience of a community.
Panton underscores the stifling impact of culture on a people. That we are locked in step, submitting to twisted values, silenced and immobilised to act and effect change is the overriding thrust of this compelling work. Sexual victimisation and abuse of girls is a worldwide phenomenon, and Panton has ably tapped into the very nerve of this wrenching subject.
But Panton delves deeper into this ubiquitous decadence. He carefully paints a vivid, dark picture of a social web that encircles and traps its residents, in particular, Daisy McIntosh. Truth and falsehood are indistinguishable. Rumours and facts interface, each losing its identity. Sordid fantasies are fulfilled by defiling innocence; incest loses its sinfulness; and naïvety welcomes impropriety as a sign of self worth. In McIntosh's world, a seething evil is the norm and few are untainted.
Panton proves an able writer, transitioning between scenes with fluidity and developing characters that are stark and vividly colourful. Yet, they never seem to dwarf the protagonist, Daisy. May, Matha, Ruth, Soldier and Manny are all significant 'players' and as intriguing as it gets.
Admittedly, friendships are formed, and some openly defend the rapacious character of the society. But the double dealing and violence never really lets up, and when it does, the violence has already left its mark.
Panton describes one such scene: "After a couple of years, Manny fell from grace and was forced to leave Plummers after beating up Lala one night, forcing her to walk to her parents' home in pouring rain. Neither would say what led to the fight that left Lala's face bruised and her thumb dislocated. However, Mr Warren, one of the local preachers and the district constable, took it upon himself to make the incident an item, much to the disgust of some of his flock who feared their own domestic business could one day suffer the same fate."
Surely, one would have thought that the building of the Panama Canal and other work opportunities abroad would have transformed a society. On some level it did, but only on a peripheral, if not vacuous level; for that famous dictum that change comes from within so aptly applies in this context. Sometimes, old values and habits cling to life perpetually.
There is little time for self-reflection as new wares have only presented new ways to deflower others. Sex, even, uninvited, cultivates identity. Panton is unmistakably raw and pours it on, shocking readers at the same time. Daisy, like other children in Plummers, is always fair game. The following psychologically numbing episode may well define the putrid state of affairs. "Daisy would enjoy the attention that Sammy, her fourteen-year-old friend (gave her) ... that was, however, different from what Mr Mills had done on her 12th birthday ... Mr Mills had pinched her nipples winked at her and invited her to feel his erect penis ... when she did not react, he had grabbed her hand and forcibly wrapped it around his bulge.."
And when sent by her mother, May, to live with her aunt, Daisy is again raped by her aunt's beau. "Geoffrey put his hand over her mouth once more and forced himself into her without any regard for her groans and feeble blows with her fists. He kept up a relentless motion as Daisy's body stiffened again and again in a fruitless attempt to move herself from the thrusting inside her ... . She didn't remember much after that."
It is a disturbing encounter that ripples through the household. Will her aunt believe Daisy's pleadings of innocence?
Eventually, Providence lifts Daisy from this mire. She bears signs of happiness - a scholarship, a sound Christian belief; travel, business, love and a betrothal. Her aunt, Ruth, and those who trusted her innocence and abilities stand with her, ever proud. Surely, this sounds like redemption. Maybe it is. Yet, one cannot help but ponder the scars etched deep in her unconscious.
Courtesy of Plummers.
Rating: Highly recommended.
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By Aniesha on February 12, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
This novel gives a real idea of what took place in Jamaica all those years ago. However the way the book is written can be confusing for the reader as the author jumps from one place to the next.