Absolutely beautiful book, although very sad in places. An autobiography of Jill Ker Conway - the first 25 years of her life growing up in Australia. She later became the first female president of Smith College. The best biography I've read in years. She expresses her thoughts and feelings in exactly the right way for each age, and when she diverges from that she lets us know - i.e. "I didn't realize until much later that..." A fascinating account of life on a sheep station and the terrible costs of extended drought. I had read about the most recent Australian drought in the newspapers and seen the pictures, but it never really came home for me what that meant until I read about it from this family's perspective. There is also keen insight (Conway is a sociologist/historian) as to the Australian national character and what it meant to become a woman intellectual in the 1950s. I highly, highly recommend this book.
I just finished this book and was engrossed by it! Her descriptions of growing up on the Australian bush are fascinating and reminded me of Sandra Day O'Connor's memoir.
The authors focuses a great deal on her relationship with her mother and her desire for independence a place where this is not encouraged. This clearly leads her to her new academic calling focusing on women and new independence.
A great writer can make any life into an exciting memoir and that is what has happened here. Conway is a fantastically gifted writer of history and she has applied her skills to her own life. The reader will get a highly enjoyable summary of recent Australian history as well as the author's thoughtful investigation of her own experience coming of age in Australia. There are several interesting threads running through the memoir: the settling of Australia's outback by European settlers and ranchers, Australia's subtle turning from Britain to America during the political and military wrenchings of WW2, Conway's struggle to be a dutiful daughter and yet create a life for herself, and Conway's struggle to prove herself in male dominated intellectual circles. The book is of that delightful genre, wherein we find The Secret Garden, The Little Princess and David Copperfield, that features the solitary child who is shaped by her early protective environment and the making of solitary discoveries in the world around her, and then later moves into a complex world where she is called upon to use all the skills her early life has taught her, even though that life is gone,
A well-written and self-revealing autobiography/memoir of an Australian women who was the first female president of Smith College. She reveals how growing up in the harsh outback (dust storms, water shortages, isolation, etc.) affected and informed her life. Read it and be inspired.
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