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The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway

The Road from Coorain (1989)

by Jill Ker Conway

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Conway's autobiography of her childhood is interesting for the glimpse it offers of a completely different life - growing up on a large Australian sheep station. It's an honest look, too, at the relationships and family dynamics that might have broken a less intelligent and/or determined young girl. I enjoyed it, but I just don't like reading biographies for book club - we wind up discussing the person's life or events, rather than the BOOK & writing. (Added note: Aug 2009 - despite my own decided bias, ALL of the book clubs I participate in have continued to occasionally choose biographies or autobiographies. I still feel the same way about the discussion - or lack thereof.) ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 26, 2016 |
good novel growing up in Australia - widowed mother - farm life wanted to do right thing didn't know how —

From the first sentence, you will be drawn inexorably into the story of her childhood in New South Wales, Australia, and her gradual discovery of—and by—the larger world: the clarity of Conway's language satisfies like cold clear water after a day in the desert: the rhythm of her sentences has a timelessness and expansiveness akin to the Australian landscape itself.
  christinejoseph | Feb 7, 2016 |
Jill Ker Conway was the first woman to serve as president of Smith College in Massachusetts, and this memoir depicts the first part of her life journey, from birth on an Australian sheep farm to her mid-20s, when she left for the United States. Conway’s parents became homesteaders in a remote part of Australia in 1929, as part of a government program granting land to former soldiers. It was a hard and isolated life, but they had many years of successful farming until a drought hit. A significant life event led them from Coorain to Sidney, where at age 11, Conway attended school with other children for the first time. The rest of the memoir describes her intellectual growth in the face of gender discrimination, her changing role in the family, and her relationship with her mother which presented several conflicts and dilemmas as Conway matured.

I found Conway’s story quite interesting, especially her fight against societal pressure to conform to the expected female role. Ultimately she had to leave her home country to pursue her dreams, which made me curious about the later phases in her life and whether she ever felt “at home” in Australia again. But those are subjects of later memoirs … ( )
  lauralkeet | May 23, 2015 |
Beautifully written autobiography--practically a page-turner--that takes the author from her childhood on a sheep ranch in Australia's outback to the University of Sydney and her departure for the United States and Harvard. ( )
  erinfanning | Mar 24, 2015 |
Synopsis: Jill Ker Conway grew up on a sheep ranch carved from the unforgiving land in New South Wales. Here life there was idyllic until the eight-year drought killed her father and banished the rest of her family to Sydney. Her struggles to ground herself within this unfamiliar culture cemented her love of learning. Her relationship with her mother, only a strong person when in her guise as a professional, finally pushed Jill to leave Australia for a future in the US.
Review: The first few chapters seemed an overly sentimental remembrance of childhood. However, as her story progressed, a much more realistic version of the life of a female in the 1950s took shape. Coming to grips with prejudice, both overt and covert, is difficult and this struggle is masterly recounted. I find it irritating and a bit depressing that attitudes toward smart, strong women haven't changed much over the years. ( )
  DrLed | Mar 1, 2015 |
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The western plains of New South Wales are grasslands.
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Given me by Jack Roberts on very high recommendation, 12/18/13.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679724362, Paperback)

From the shelter of a protective family, to the lessons of tragedy and independence, this is an indelible portrait of a harsh and beautiful country and the inspiring story of a remarkable woman's life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:07 -0400)

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A woman of intellect and ambition describes growing up on an Australian ranch, coping with her father's death and her mother's depression, her intellectual awakening at the university, and her path to becoming Smith College's first woman president.

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