Local author pens Novella – A Fictional Saga of Life as a Foreign Service Agent in Southeast Asia

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By Karen Thompson
Features Reporter
February 15, 2020

The author will be greeting visitors and signing books at the Amelia Island Book Festival Author Expo, Saturday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Middle School, 315 Citrona Dr., Fernandina Beach. A reception and Book Talk will be held Sunday, Feb. 16 at Story & Song Bookstore and Bistro, 1430 Park Ave., Fernandina Beach.

Where were you in the turbulent 60s? For Anne Oman, a 22-year-old recent college graduate, Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia would become her home as an American Foreign Service Officer for the U. S. Information Agency.

Anne H Oman

Fernandina Beach resident Oman has written a novelette, Mango Rain, that chronicles the changing political climate in Southeast Asia and life in a part of the world where she describes “heat that encases the city in its steamy cocoon.”

Her descriptions of this exotic place…the smell of the frangipani blossoms, the sound of the mango rains before sometimes violent monsoons and the sight of young Buddhist monks in bright saffron robes….bring a story of love, loss and political intrigue to life.

“In 1962, opportunities for women were limited. My wanderlust moved me to take the Foreign Service test and because I could speak French and specialized in news and culture, I was accepted, went through training and was off to Cambodia,” she said.

The book is 50 per cent imagination, according to Oman. Julia Galbraith, the main character, is fictional but the time and place are true to Oman’s own experiences. Julia’s diary records the workings of the expatriate community and what happened to them later in life.

The 50 per cent real life included the good…”many Cambodian and government service friends and coworkers and the opportunity to experience life in an enchanting place at a pivotal point in history,” she said.

“Other events were very real and life-changing…the war next door in Vietnam, the horrors of the Khmers Rouge, being expelled from two countries and the assassination of President Kennedy,” she said. Her second post was in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Oman has always been a writer…for the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, National Geographic World and Christian Science Monitor to name a few. She is a reporter-at-large for the Fernandina Observer. Mango Rain is her first work of fiction. Oman is married to Ralph Oman an attorney. She met him while training for the Foreign Service. They have three daughters.

The author will be greeting visitors and signing books at the Amelia Island Book Festival Author Expo, Saturday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Middle School, 315 Citrona Dr., Fernandina Beach. A reception and Book Talk will be held Sunday, Feb. 16 at Story & Song Bookstore and Bistro, 1430 Park Ave., Fernandina Beach.

Karen Thompson 2Editor’s Note: Karen moved to Fernandina Beach eight years ago after working in Chicago as a senior public relations specialist for the Midwestern regional office of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to that, she was an editor, columnist and writer for a chain of Chicago newspapers , an account executive for several Chicago public relations agencies and proprietor of her own pr/marketing business. She grew up and earned her journalism degree in Wisconsin.

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