A beautifully written autobiography. At age 11, Conway ( Women Reformers and American Culture ) left the arduous life on her family's sheep farm in the Australian outback for school in war-time Sydney, burdened by an emotionally dependent, recently widowed mother. A lively curiosity and penetrating intellect illuminate this unusually objective account of the author's progress from a solitary childhood--the most appealing part of the narrative--to public achievement as president of Smith College and now professor at MIT. Gifted with an ability to adapt to a wide range of cultures and people and despite ingrained Australian prejudice against intellectuals, Conway devoted herself to the study of history and literature, spurred on by excellent British-style schooling.
A beautifully written narrative of Conway's life on a sheep-farm in the grasslands of Australia, her intellectual blossoming in a male dominated culture and her departure for American, eventually the presidency of Smith College.
This is a great book, I especially loved the beginning where she talks of her childhood on a sheep farm in New South Wales really interesting stuff.Also very strong people who by the end of the book you feel like you know.This book is a very complex story of a woman torn between her family duty and her academic acheviments in a time and place where women rarley achevied the success she attains.Lots of interesting facts of her travels at that time in history. At the end she emerges as a very strong female against all odds.
I really enjoyed about three-fourths of this book. It was very interesting how she grew up in the outbush of Australia and what a different and difficult life it was. The last part of the book wasn't quit as interesting, but on a whole I really liked the book.
Jill Ker Conway's description of Australia was beautiful. I felt like I was there when she described her life in the bush as well as the city. Her ability to convey her feelings and understanding of her situation growing up in a less than idyllic life came through the pages as each situation developed. The book left me admiring her strength of character and understanding.
Well written autobiographical rendering of a woman's upbringing, trials and education in Australia. Full of wonderful descriptions, brilliant remembrances. Thoughtfully developed and skillfully executed.
The 1st of 3 autobiographies covering the life of a notable woman. Covers her growing-up years on Australian sheep farm, move to the city with her "difficult" mother, travels in Europe, college education and her decision to move to the US to continue her education. The book jacket calls it "gripping and inspiring" and I found it to be such. It brings to life the Australian experiences of culture and challenge, and the challenge of being a woman that transends any culture. Was a book group discussion book for me and I am grateful to have found it that way.
Like a number of books, the reviews here and on Amazon range from "Must Read" to "Waste of Time." I must admit to finding some truth in each of them.
Having said that, I wish my mother was alive to read this book. She was Australian, growing up in the same time period Jill was, except she was a few years older. Mom passed the exam to enroll in the best high school in Sydney, but went into the work force instead, due to her family's financial situation. In her case, the 'villain' was her father and not her mother, whom she always loved deeply.
I was a member of a 5th grade class in Gladesville, Australia, which is now part of Sydney. My mother took my brother and I home with her for a year. Unfortunately, this was several months after her mother's death. This allowed me to understand the book better. For example, growing up I learned British children's stories instead of American ones.
Australia today is so far unlike the country Jill Ker and my mother knew that there is almost no explaining it. The culture of the people has changed considerably. No need to go into that here. Financially, Australia, as a country, has the highest personal debt in the world. I think Jill's father would be shocked.
Sometimes life doesn't give you the family you want or need. At those times, people must not use their family as an excuse, but as a reason to make yourself better. I feel that my mother did just that. She never went to high school, but she was the equal of Jill Ker, if not superior, in bettering her life and making a difference.