The Road from Coorain: A Woman's Exquisitely Clear-Sighted Memoir of Growing Up Australian

The Road from Coorain: A Woman's Exquisitely Clear-Sighted Memoir of Growing Up Australian

by Jill Ker Conway

Jill Ker Conway tells the story of her astonishing journey into adulthooda journey that would ultimately span immense distances and encompass worlds, ideas, and ways of life that seem a century apart.She was seven before she ever saw another girl child.

At eight, still too small to mount her horse unaided, she was galloping miles, alone, across Coorain, her parents' thirty thousand windswept, drought-haunted acres in the Australian outback, doing a "man's job" of helping herd the sheep because World War II had taken away the able-bodied men.

She loved (and makes us see and feel) the vast unpeopled landscape, beautiful and hostile, whose uncertain weathers tormented the sheep ranchers with conflicting promises of riches and inescapable disaster.

We see her slowly gaining strength, coming into her own emotionally and intellectually and beginning the joyous love affair that gave wings to her newfound self.Worlds away from Coorain, in America, Jill Conway became a historian and the first woman president of Smith College.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Autobiography
  • Rating: 4.04
  • Pages: 238
  • Publish Date: August 11th 1990 by Vintage
  • Isbn10: 0679724362
  • Isbn13: 9780679724360

What People Think about "The Road from Coorain: A Woman's Exquisitely Clear-Sighted Memoir of Growing Up Australian"

But after the move to Sydney (off of Coorain sheep country isolation)it cuts to her latter years of schooling and family life; then every year of progressive aging becomes closer to a highly aesthetic intellectual and emotional exercise or thesis of record memoir. This last 70 pages was so much more a "studied" analysis of her educational path that it held none of the bright light purity of the earlier years.

I first read The Road from Coorain not long after it was published, liked it a lot then, and just finished rereading it 2014. For myself, I also liked the girlhood memoir the best -- but a lot of the power of that is from her rethinking of her life and her country's history, first as a college student, then as a professional historian.

She briefly attends a public school because the family's finances have been wiped out by the drought. This whole section reads a bit like a de-fictionalized version of Frederica Potter's Cambridge. Conway seems oblivious to the fact that most of her readers will have attended college and will already be familiar with the joy of discovery.

As an autobiographical account of her developing values, this part of the book is as compelling as the childhood section; however, it is fascinating how she makes herself effectively a case study in the history of transformations in the social consciousness of Australians in the fifties. By the end of the book, she is headed to graduate school at Radcliffe to study the parallels and differences between Australian and American progression from British colonies.

Solid memoir on growing up in 40s Australia, first in the Outback on a sheep farm that nearly collapses due to a long drought, then in Sydney as she tries to adjust to life a smart, pretty woman in a very chauvinistic academic world. When her fatherless family moved to Sydney, leaving the farm in caretaker's hands, the book bogged down for me.

Then the book ends with Jill Ker Conway leaving for America at age 26.

A good book about growing up in the outback of Australia during the 30s. The latter two thirds (through the 50s) deals with the author's progression toward adulthood, her psychological separation from the control of her parents and an understanding of what she wanted to do with her life. Watching her become an independent individual, that is what I enjoyed. The author states clearly in the foreword that she hopes this book describing her own life experiences may inspire other girls toward intellectual professions of high standing through education.

In the second half the book's focus is on her angry frustrated mother, life as an intellectual woman in Australia in the time of great misogyny and her desire to understand much more than the rote learning offered by many courses.

In 2004 she was designated a Women's History Month Honoree by the National Women's History Project.