hits counter True North: A Memoir - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

True North: A Memoir

Availability: Ready to download

Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought to establish her public self.


Compare

Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought to establish her public self.

30 review for True North: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    I gave this book 4 stars because I really like memoirs and loved The Road from Coorain, Conway's earlier memoir of her childhood. A more objective reviewer could very justifiably give this memoir, which covers the time from graduate school through her acceptance of the Presidency of Smith College at age 40, 3 stars. As many of the Goodreads reviews have noted, this book bogs down at times, going into excessive detail on small points and occasionally slipping into a detached academic tone. But ev I gave this book 4 stars because I really like memoirs and loved The Road from Coorain, Conway's earlier memoir of her childhood. A more objective reviewer could very justifiably give this memoir, which covers the time from graduate school through her acceptance of the Presidency of Smith College at age 40, 3 stars. As many of the Goodreads reviews have noted, this book bogs down at times, going into excessive detail on small points and occasionally slipping into a detached academic tone. But even if Conway's writing style is not as consistently engaging as it was in The Road From Coorain, it really doesn't matter. The incredible life she led during those years, the fascinating people she met, the insights she gained, the cultural obstacles/sexism she overcame, and the contributions she made to enhancing the equality of women, transcend any minor concerns about her narrative technique. To read this book is to time-travel from the 1950s to the 1970s and, for those who weren't women or didn't live through those years, to have a fully opened window into the challenges of being an intelligent, accomplished and ambitious woman in a world not prepared for or interested in such strange animals. True North also provides fascinating insights into academia; the similarities and differences among Australian, Canadian, British and American culture; and the city of Toronto. While the most important story Conway has to tell is the struggle for female identity and acceptance, she is at her best and most engaging when talking about her personal rather than professional experiences, for example her nights of drinking and sharing ideas with her graduate school housemates or her struggle to cope with not being able to have children. That's when she really comes alive to me. The most poignant part of the book is when she describes trying to come to terms with her husband's manic depression -- a condition that was barely understood at the time. "Slowly, before my eyes, the light within in faded, flickered frantically, and then was extinguished completely. This blackness was different from any moods I knew -- sudden moments of despair, depleted energy, lost confidence, anxiety. Though I racked my brains to decipher some psychodynamic origin for John's sudden swings into profound depression, they were totally unpredictable, products of a central nervous system disorder beyond anyone's control. One could, with experience, see the warning signs, sudden irascibility, flashes of suspicion, wild surges of enthusiasm, until suddenly there was a full blown manic episode -- a rage or panic of monumental proportions -- a prelude to a depression so bleak and impenetrable that no ordinary bodily cycles seemed to operate. . . .I'd thought myself a mature adult before. Now I learned firsthand the hard lesson of the middle years of life. I was bright. I had boundless energy. I was an excellent manager of time, resources, people. But I was powerless to avert suffering from the person who was the center of my personal universe."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Kinsey

    A couple thoughts I found intriguing: "The departmental organization of university faculties means that every department faculty, dominated by the research ideal, strives to teach ever-more specialized courses in its chosen discipline, seeking to convert its students to aspire to graduate study in the field in question. This objective is in direct conflict with the undergraduate's need to sop up general knowledge like blotting paper, to try out new ideas, to test the limits of the individual ima A couple thoughts I found intriguing: "The departmental organization of university faculties means that every department faculty, dominated by the research ideal, strives to teach ever-more specialized courses in its chosen discipline, seeking to convert its students to aspire to graduate study in the field in question. This objective is in direct conflict with the undergraduate's need to sop up general knowledge like blotting paper, to try out new ideas, to test the limits of the individual imagination, and to find the moral insight desperately needed as an anchor during the intensely competitive process of being rigorously evaluated in a self-advertised meritocratic society." And here's my favorite: "The first wonderful discovery was that I was obliged to move from a colonial idea of education, in which the instructor disciplines the student so that he or she measures up to standards externally developed, to a setting in which each student was viewed as a potential Nobel Prize winner, a possible colleague whose talents might one day transform what was regarded as important knowledge. This made teaching a joy, more like an intellectual form of athletics as distinguished from some parade-ground drill."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Dedication: For John Description:Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought to establish her public self. Opening: Within hours of my arrival in September 1960, New York Dedication: For John Description:Conway's The Road from Coorain presents a vivid memoir of coming of age in Australia. In 1960, however, she had reached the limits of that provincial--and irredeemably sexist--society and set off for America. True North--the testament of an extraordinary woman living in an extraordinary time--te lls the profound story of the challenges that confronted Conway, as she sought to establish her public self. Opening: Within hours of my arrival in September 1960, New York astonished and delighted me. The astonishment was instant. Started this in the middle of a sleepless night and it is nice to know about how others have faired in a life that is so different from my own. That's what reading is all about, finding out about different things. A quick read about struggle with sexism, in both harking back to Australia, and with her arrival to NY, US, in hurricane Donna. Learning point: JFK airport was known as Idlewild airport back in 1960. This strong woman came through to become Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Women's History Month Honoree of the National Women's History Project.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Consuela

    This is the sequel to Road to Coorain and continues with the life story of Jill Ker Conway after she leaves her native Australia to head to Harvard for graduate studies in History. She is a scholar and it's really a joy to read about her love of learning and research. This book takes her through falling in love with another scholar 18 years older than she is, their marriage, move to his native Canada, to becoming the first woman president of Smith College. What I'm impressed with is her continua This is the sequel to Road to Coorain and continues with the life story of Jill Ker Conway after she leaves her native Australia to head to Harvard for graduate studies in History. She is a scholar and it's really a joy to read about her love of learning and research. This book takes her through falling in love with another scholar 18 years older than she is, their marriage, move to his native Canada, to becoming the first woman president of Smith College. What I'm impressed with is her continuation of learning, whether it's accounting, gardening, classical music, jogging. She's a wonderful writer.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    In this second volume of Conway's memoirs, she defies the provincial attitudes of her native Australia and her controlling mother's objections and enters graduate school in history at Harvard. This takes place in the pre-feminist late 50s (think Mad Men, season 1), and it's remarkable to me that Conway had not just the determination but the scope of mind to pursue a scholarly life; coming from where and when she did, going to Harvard required an imaginative leap. I particularly enjoyed the first In this second volume of Conway's memoirs, she defies the provincial attitudes of her native Australia and her controlling mother's objections and enters graduate school in history at Harvard. This takes place in the pre-feminist late 50s (think Mad Men, season 1), and it's remarkable to me that Conway had not just the determination but the scope of mind to pursue a scholarly life; coming from where and when she did, going to Harvard required an imaginative leap. I particularly enjoyed the first part of the book, when everything at Harvard is new to her; but throughout, there's the pleasure of engaging with an agile mind.

  6. 5 out of 5

    EBirdy

    This got somewhat bogged down in the minutia of working at the University of Toronto, but her experiences overall were really interesting and one cannot doubt the depth of her accomplishments. I most enjoyed the sections on her personal relationships.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I began this book reading to edit: for ex., "I first discovered I was obliged" for JKC's "The first wonderful discovery was that I was obliged"(50). But I soon found a great collection of character portrayal--her neurotic, fastidious, demanding Australian mother, or her Harvard (and Canadian) boss-turned-husband Jack, a disabled war veteran. Along with the characters are the construction of places: Oxford,UK, Cambridge,MA, Italy, Australia and Toronto, not to mention British Columbia (briefly, I began this book reading to edit: for ex., "I first discovered I was obliged" for JKC's "The first wonderful discovery was that I was obliged"(50). But I soon found a great collection of character portrayal--her neurotic, fastidious, demanding Australian mother, or her Harvard (and Canadian) boss-turned-husband Jack, a disabled war veteran. Along with the characters are the construction of places: Oxford,UK, Cambridge,MA, Italy, Australia and Toronto, not to mention British Columbia (briefly, as she vacationed before her Smith presidency). Along the way, she imbues her expertise on the history of women's college education--how Oberlin women were first assigned specific male students for whom to do washing, etc, but how Mary Lyon ignored women's supposed second place. Co-education was often defeated--say, Radcliffe separated off--because women did better academically, and a university simply couldn't give out most prizes to the gender minority. I have been frequently astounded, as in JKC's Euro-centric reflections on how modest American presidents' palaces were: "It was instructive to see how modest the state residences (White House) and private dwellings (Monticello, Mt Vernon) of the greatest of the Founding Fathers were"(66). Modest? compared to English aristocrats' (Blenheim) and Italian villas… Her life at Oxford and their life in Italy, especially Florence, is interesting, as is her longtime friendship with the premier historian Natalie Zemon Davis, who addressed more than one of my post-docs.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maija

    Read it for my book club at work - I liked this, but I think it may have helped to have read her previous book first. I also was bummed it didn't cover her years at Smith (the book ends as she is to become president of Smith College - the first woman president, I believe, of all-women college). plus, I love Western Massachusetts and would have liked to read about it. Her style is somewhat removed - she is clearly an academic, not very emotional. I enjoyed most the parts about her experiences suc Read it for my book club at work - I liked this, but I think it may have helped to have read her previous book first. I also was bummed it didn't cover her years at Smith (the book ends as she is to become president of Smith College - the first woman president, I believe, of all-women college). plus, I love Western Massachusetts and would have liked to read about it. Her style is somewhat removed - she is clearly an academic, not very emotional. I enjoyed most the parts about her experiences such as how women were treated in the Ivy Leagues at this time and the politics of Canada.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyn

    Jill Ker Conway sketches the beginning of a woman's academic career in the 60s and early 70s, from graduate work at Harvard to assuming the presidency of Smith College. Here is a strong, Type-A personality--tested in the crucible of a farm in the Australian outback and the struggle to break free of a controlling mother, and so ready to tackle gender discrimination and to campaign for women's education. Her natural ability and training as a historian enable her to view the places she lives and th Jill Ker Conway sketches the beginning of a woman's academic career in the 60s and early 70s, from graduate work at Harvard to assuming the presidency of Smith College. Here is a strong, Type-A personality--tested in the crucible of a farm in the Australian outback and the struggle to break free of a controlling mother, and so ready to tackle gender discrimination and to campaign for women's education. Her natural ability and training as a historian enable her to view the places she lives and the conflicts she observes in the context of natural and social history.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Judi

    I was merely an academic, not an intellectual. I am merely a feminist, not a philosopher. Fifteen years younger than Conway, I appreciate what she and other feminist scholars did for those who came behind. But my working-class, state school, problem-oriented self just can’t muddle through any more year-long honeymoons in Europe, dinners with Archibald MacLeish, loving descriptions of Roman apartments, or wrestling with the nature of God after a fifth of gin. A brilliant trail-blazer, but dusted I was merely an academic, not an intellectual. I am merely a feminist, not a philosopher. Fifteen years younger than Conway, I appreciate what she and other feminist scholars did for those who came behind. But my working-class, state school, problem-oriented self just can’t muddle through any more year-long honeymoons in Europe, dinners with Archibald MacLeish, loving descriptions of Roman apartments, or wrestling with the nature of God after a fifth of gin. A brilliant trail-blazer, but dusted with the pretentiousness that comes from some deep, deep sorrow.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    Borrowed from public library. Adult memoir. I must have read the Road from Coorain. This follows that. She's such a good writer. Australian born, educated at Harvard, married a Harvard prof, taught at U. of Toronto (1964-1975), President of Smith College (1975-1985) in Northhampton, Mass. Writes about discrimination against women in Australia, feminism, education, homeland, family, history -- all objectively -- and life. Quite a learning experience! Borrowed from public library. Adult memoir. I must have read the Road from Coorain. This follows that. She's such a good writer. Australian born, educated at Harvard, married a Harvard prof, taught at U. of Toronto (1964-1975), President of Smith College (1975-1985) in Northhampton, Mass. Writes about discrimination against women in Australia, feminism, education, homeland, family, history -- all objectively -- and life. Quite a learning experience!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    This continues the memoir started in her previous book: The Road to Coorain. It picks up the story as she leaves Australia for Harvard where she enters a small community of women scholars. She has a love affair with a Canadian War hero John Conway, twenty years her senior and also a manic depressive. It continues until she is ready to leave her last post at the University of Toronto to become the first woman president of Smith’s College. Candid, easy reading, well written.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terry

    A continuation of Conway's intellectual and professional journey as she begins graduate school at Harvard. She finds both her professional speciality - the history of women and their struggle for equality - and her future husband John. She adopts Canada as her home and grows professionally at the University of Toronto before accepting the presidency of Smith College. A continuation of Conway's intellectual and professional journey as she begins graduate school at Harvard. She finds both her professional speciality - the history of women and their struggle for equality - and her future husband John. She adopts Canada as her home and grows professionally at the University of Toronto before accepting the presidency of Smith College.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    another fine section of autobiography - from departing her mother and Australia to enter Harvard's graduate program in history AND covers her time at Harvard, marrying John Conway, moving to Canada to administer at York University while she teaches at the University of Toronto, until they move to Northhampton, Mass., where she will be President of Smith College. For me the most interesting portions were the History work in Widener and Holyoke House, her view of teaching and of research, and her another fine section of autobiography - from departing her mother and Australia to enter Harvard's graduate program in history AND covers her time at Harvard, marrying John Conway, moving to Canada to administer at York University while she teaches at the University of Toronto, until they move to Northhampton, Mass., where she will be President of Smith College. For me the most interesting portions were the History work in Widener and Holyoke House, her view of teaching and of research, and her decisions at each stage of life about what to do. One reviewer "Rick" gives his reaction this way:- I gave this book 4 stars because I really like memoirs and loved The Road from Coorain, Conway's earlier memoir of her childhood. A more objective reviewer could very justifiably give this memoir, which covers the time from graduate school through her acceptance of the Presidency of Smith College at age 40, 3 stars. As many of the Goodreads reviews have noted, this book bogs down at times, going into excessive detail on small points and occasionally slipping into a detached academic tone. The incredible life she led during those years, the fascinating people she met, the insights she gained, the cultural obstacles/sexism she overcame, and the contributions she made to enhancing the equality of women, transcend any minor concerns about her narrative technique. To read this book is to time-travel from the 1950s to the 1970s and, for those who weren't women or didn't live through those years, to have a fully opened window into the challenges of being an intelligent, accomplished and ambitious woman in a world not prepared for or interested in such strange animals. True North also provides fascinating insights into academia; the similarities and differences among Australian, Canadian, British and American culture; and the city of Toronto. While the most important story Conway has to tell is the struggle for female identity and acceptance, she is at her best and most engaging when talking about her personal rather than professional experiences, for example her nights of drinking and sharing ideas with her graduate school housemates or her struggle to cope with not being able to have children. That's when she really comes alive to me. The most poignant part of the book is when she describes trying to come to terms with her husband's manic depression -- a condition that was barely understood at the time. "Slowly, before my eyes, the light within in faded, flickered frantically, and then was extinguished completely. This blackness was different from any moods I knew -- sudden moments of despair, depleted energy, lost confidence, anxiety. Though I racked my brains to decipher some psychodynamic origin for John's sudden swings into profound depression, they were totally unpredictable, products of a central nervous system disorder beyond anyone's control. One could, with experience, see the warning signs, sudden irascibility, flashes of suspicion, wild surges of enthusiasm, until suddenly there was a full blown manic episode -- a rage or panic of monumental proportions -- a prelude to a depression so bleak and impenetrable that no ordinary bodily cycles seemed to operate. . . .I'd thought myself a mature adult before. Now I learned firsthand the hard lesson of the middle years of life. I was bright. I had boundless energy. I was an excellent manager of time, resources, people. But I was powerless to avert suffering from the person who was the center of my personal universe."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Scott J Pearson

    Jill Ker Conway, the first Vice President of a Canadian university, details her journey from her arrival in Boston as a Fullbright Scholar to her acceptance of the role of president of Smith College. In this tale, she serves as an inspirational figure not just to women but to all with great challenges to overcome. Conway was the daughter of a determined yet domineering mother in the Australian outback. As such, her flight to North America represented not only a change of culture but also freedom Jill Ker Conway, the first Vice President of a Canadian university, details her journey from her arrival in Boston as a Fullbright Scholar to her acceptance of the role of president of Smith College. In this tale, she serves as an inspirational figure not just to women but to all with great challenges to overcome. Conway was the daughter of a determined yet domineering mother in the Australian outback. As such, her flight to North America represented not only a change of culture but also freedom from a set of gender-based expectations of familial service. She writes about her coming of age at Harvard and her finding a professional identity at the University of Toronto as a contemplative historian of women and as an action-oriented feminist. She grew up a very private woman, but she grew up into a public figure upon whom many placed their highest aspirations. Of note, she also writes about her marriage to fellow academic John Conway. She details their struggle with his bipolar disorder and with her endometriosis, which left her barren. What’s impressive is that she grew and learned from each of these experiences. Thus, this memoir represents a long-term coming-of-age tale. Women especially can be inspired by the way that she overcame life and professional challenges to find herself over decades. But her tale speaks to an audience and with a theme larger than that. Intelligence, class, and determination intertwine in her narrative. She relates to the human condition broadly about how to grow up in the course of life’s incessant challenges. With each blow, she became more resolute and gained more character with age. As such, I recommend this book to all readers of all ages.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jo Young Switzer

    Like she did in her book The Road from Coorain, Jill Ker Conway uses her stunning writing ability and wise insights to describe her new life in the United States. Completely stopped from advancement in Australia because she was a woman, she found a lively, welcoming, dynamic intellectual community at Harvard. Her descriptions of her student and faculty colleagues assured the reader that she had found a place to thrive. And she did! She was a successful teacher and student. She and several women Like she did in her book The Road from Coorain, Jill Ker Conway uses her stunning writing ability and wise insights to describe her new life in the United States. Completely stopped from advancement in Australia because she was a woman, she found a lively, welcoming, dynamic intellectual community at Harvard. Her descriptions of her student and faculty colleagues assured the reader that she had found a place to thrive. And she did! She was a successful teacher and student. She and several women friends shared a home that became an intellectual community itself. She met her eventual husband. And all with an intellectual vitality that flew off the pages. The book moves past graduate school to her work at the University of Toronto where her combination of intellectual acumen and her sensible problem-solving meshed to create a wildly effective administrator. I wish many of us could meet with Jill Ker Conway because she is so deeply in tune with what women face in academia and in life. She is an intellectual giant, an energetic and focused writer, and a tremendous role model for women in academia everywhere I can't wait to read her next book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Connie Kronlokken

    When Jill Ker Conway arrives at Harvard, she is a scholar dedicated to her work on early women social workers, especially Jane Addams. She teaches, meeting a Canadian veteran, John Conway. They fall in love and together move to Toronto, where Jill Conway teaches at the University of Toronto. She pays attention to many administrative matters and is asked to become a Vice President for Internal Affairs. She is scrappy and is surprised to find that she likes intellectual sparring. Conway does not s When Jill Ker Conway arrives at Harvard, she is a scholar dedicated to her work on early women social workers, especially Jane Addams. She teaches, meeting a Canadian veteran, John Conway. They fall in love and together move to Toronto, where Jill Conway teaches at the University of Toronto. She pays attention to many administrative matters and is asked to become a Vice President for Internal Affairs. She is scrappy and is surprised to find that she likes intellectual sparring. Conway does not skimp on the emotional challenges she faces, her mother still bitter and miserable in Australia; and Conway fighting manic depression. She is also lavish in her description of place and weathers. It is hard to love the north country after her beloved Australia, but she believes Canada to be a more fair place politically, and she eventually makes it her home. Her story is told with great insight and understanding of cultural mores.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dhartridge

    Not nearly as interesting to me as her first book and I don't recommend it. One bit toward the end that did amaze me:"So when a group of Ohio men planned the establishment of Oberlin College, they thought first of acquiring a farm..and enabling talented young men to earn their education there by substituting farm work for tuition fees. Late in the day the planners remembered about the laundry,cooking,cleaning and mending (that would be needed) and quickly developed plans for the admission of wom Not nearly as interesting to me as her first book and I don't recommend it. One bit toward the end that did amaze me:"So when a group of Ohio men planned the establishment of Oberlin College, they thought first of acquiring a farm..and enabling talented young men to earn their education there by substituting farm work for tuition fees. Late in the day the planners remembered about the laundry,cooking,cleaning and mending (that would be needed) and quickly developed plans for the admission of women to Oberlin. Women students in the first classes were assigned a male student for whole laundry,mending and cleaning they were responsible-services activities they performed on Mondays when no classes were scheduled and for which they were not paid." It was interesting that her husband managed to succeed in his career despite grappling with severe bipolar illness.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    well-written but the subject matter would not likely be of interest to most people. The author leaves Australia for graduate study in Harvard in the 1950s. It was interesting to read the description of Boston and Harvard at the time. The lives of the author and her friends at Harvard are somewhat interesting. It is nice to read about the author's romance and marriage with a professor/advisor at Harvard. But then, they move to Canada to both work at the University of Toronto. Their twenty years a well-written but the subject matter would not likely be of interest to most people. The author leaves Australia for graduate study in Harvard in the 1950s. It was interesting to read the description of Boston and Harvard at the time. The lives of the author and her friends at Harvard are somewhat interesting. It is nice to read about the author's romance and marriage with a professor/advisor at Harvard. But then, they move to Canada to both work at the University of Toronto. Their twenty years at Toronto are less interesting. The book ends when the author accepts the presidency of Smith College in Massachusetts.

  20. 4 out of 5

    M. White

    This is a continuation of the memoir begun in Road from Coorain, and covers her move to the US to attend Harvard, her marriage to John Conway, and then their move to Canada where her career path changes from historian to university administrator. Her focus on both feminism and academic administration was dealt with in depth, and I found it most interesting. This book ends with her assumption of the role of President of Smith College, and I look forward to reading about that in he next volume.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Welbourn

    Excerpted from an August 2010 email from Nancy to her granddaughter Katelyn: Thought of another book, only can't remember the author:: Think it's TRUE NORTH, AND the first book she wrote (can't remember the title!) was about her growing up in Australia--it's beautifully written and fascinating--she ultimately became President of Smith College, so once you get the author's name of TRUE NORTH you'll be in business. Excerpted from an August 2010 email from Nancy to her granddaughter Katelyn: Thought of another book, only can't remember the author:: Think it's TRUE NORTH, AND the first book she wrote (can't remember the title!) was about her growing up in Australia--it's beautifully written and fascinating--she ultimately became President of Smith College, so once you get the author's name of TRUE NORTH you'll be in business.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bill Porter

    Not finished. Didn't get as far as Canada. I found her an awesome lady though, and I'm reliably told that 'The Road From Coorain' is delightful, so I've started that instead. And, reluctant as I am to speak disparagingly of a book written by the recently deceased, I grew weary of the constant reminders of how awesome she was. Even though she was. Not finished. Didn't get as far as Canada. I found her an awesome lady though, and I'm reliably told that 'The Road From Coorain' is delightful, so I've started that instead. And, reluctant as I am to speak disparagingly of a book written by the recently deceased, I grew weary of the constant reminders of how awesome she was. Even though she was.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cathy Ritterbusch

    Bravo to Conway. As a college professor, I really loved her insights into the world of academia and esp the role of women therein. I think some parts of this would be a bit dry for someone outside of academia, which is the only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars. Bravo to Conway. As a college professor, I really loved her insights into the world of academia and esp the role of women therein. I think some parts of this would be a bit dry for someone outside of academia, which is the only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    So interesting historically. An unlikely life.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Squas

    A little too erudite for me. At least she certainly has lived an interesting life, so I was able to get through the book but I didn’t look forward to reading each night as I usually do.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carin

    At first I was disappointed that this book didn't take place in Australia. Ms. Conway's first memoir, The Road from Coorain, is one of the truly classic, essentials of Australian literature and takes us from Jill's childhood growing up on a station (ranch) in the bush (outback), to her move to Sydney and her struggles in the 1950s to get the education she so desperately craves. I knew this book started with her heading to Boston for graduate school, but I didn't realize she's only return to Aust At first I was disappointed that this book didn't take place in Australia. Ms. Conway's first memoir, The Road from Coorain, is one of the truly classic, essentials of Australian literature and takes us from Jill's childhood growing up on a station (ranch) in the bush (outback), to her move to Sydney and her struggles in the 1950s to get the education she so desperately craves. I knew this book started with her heading to Boston for graduate school, but I didn't realize she's only return to Australia once, 8 years later, to show the country to her husband. Alas. But an interesting thing is that I still learned a lot about Australia, reading this book. Because Ms. Conway is constantly comparing America to Australia, we learn about Australia by default. She starts by being quite surprised at how nice Americans are (not just Americans, but a New York cabdriver no less!) and then is impressed by our quick decisiveness, and how America is more openminded than Australia (although it is still the '60s.) The rigid gender lines she tired of fighting in Sydney are already starting to loosen in Boston, although they still chafed (one woman friend won an award for the best dissertation in the English department. Three of her male colleagues were asked to stay on at Harvard as instructors but she was not.) Also in Australia, a high premium is put on being proper and polite - to the extent that if one is smart, one does everything possible to hide that so as to not make anyone else uncomfortable. But in America, where we all are constantly striving to better ourselves, no one is ashamed of their intellect. She can never quite wrap her mind around our "pursuit of happiness," and I was very amused by how she found buildings in Boston "so old" (only an Australian could get away with that description!) Then she moves to Canada with her husband (his home country) and gets tenure at the University of Toronto. The second half of this book is very, very much about academia, and not even in the David Lodge/Richard Russo sort of way , but about sexual discrimination, the petty jealousy of professors with lesser enrollments, and the responsibilities that come with being appointed the first female Vice-President at the school. Having grown up practically on a college campus with a professor for a father, it all rang very true, but none of that is terribly interesting except to the people directly involved. So the second half of the book bogged down a bit. At the very end it gets interesting again as she's offered the job of President of Smith College and has to decide if she'll take it (you already know the answer if you read even the briefest bio of the author.) But meanwhile there's a lot of talk of meetings, graduate students, and whether they have to leave Canada to get a good education. Oh, and how winters in Canada really aren't that bad (I didn't believe her.) Ms. Conway has a very interesting style in which the entire book is passive and she tells, not shows, us everything. It's written in the opposite styles of what everyone recommends today, but it works for her. The parts where more was going on were certainly more interesting, I think proving that passivity isn't the way to go, but it was fascinating to see that in the hands of a master writer, even the most basic rules of writing can be tossed out the window. I did enjoy the book but it had its flaws and I think people less interested in academia would have a harder go at it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martha Curtis

    I read the Road To Coorain in 2014 and liked the book (4 stars). I, then, decided True North. Gave the book 3 to 4 stars. She sometimes became wordy. Also her time spent in Rome became kind of a travelogue. All in all I enjoyed reading about her time in graduate work, her Phd., time spent as a professor in Toronto and finally becoming the first woman president of Smith College in Northampton, Mass. She was a fantastic woman/feminist. A true model for all women.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    I had listened to “The Road From Coorain” on audio-book but unfortunately “True North” was not available in that format so I obtain it as an e-book and read it via my Kindle app on my Ipad. So glad I did as it was so easy to just tap a word and obtain the definition. I love a book that challenges my vocabulary as this one did. “True North” is the second book in Conway’s trilogy memoir. I was introduced to this series by a Professor friend of mine who is also from Australia and knows Ker Conway p I had listened to “The Road From Coorain” on audio-book but unfortunately “True North” was not available in that format so I obtain it as an e-book and read it via my Kindle app on my Ipad. So glad I did as it was so easy to just tap a word and obtain the definition. I love a book that challenges my vocabulary as this one did. “True North” is the second book in Conway’s trilogy memoir. I was introduced to this series by a Professor friend of mine who is also from Australia and knows Ker Conway professionally. She said their upbringing in Australia was different but they were from the same era and had many of the same experience with Australian culture. This book starts with her leaving Australia heading to her graduate studies at Radcliffe College in history. The book reveals her excitement of being in a community of intellectual woman and the joy of learning. The book also discusses her problems of being block from teaching assignments and so on because she was a female. I can relate in many ways to Conway’s story as it brought back similar memories of my own, as I am a contemporary of Conway and faced the same culture problems of the day. Unlike Conway I was a science major and as she noted in her book the men in the science field vigorously resisted women entering their field. I felt in many ways I was taking a trip down memory lane reading this book. The problems she had getting started on her dissertation were all too familiar to me. I was impressed by her ability to move into the management role at the University of Toronto and on to Smith College. She was lucky she had a supportive husband even if he had a chronic disease. I went to high school in Canada (even though I am an American) so could relate to her description of Canada and I particularly was interested in her discussion of the difference in education approaches from Australia, Canada and the U.S. The book is well-written and provides not only personal insight but also professional ones. I am looking forward to the last book of the series about her time as President of Smith College.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    "The Road From Coorain" is haunting in its exploration of landscape and family, and a young girl's struggle to find herself. In "True North", Jill leaves Australia for the U.S., working in Cambridge and in Toronto as an historian. In Boston, she meets her husband-to-be, John Conway. This book focuses on Jill Ker Conway's twenties, thirties, and forties. She becomes a professor, then an administrator. As a teacher, she focuses on history as a vital force in human life, paying special attention to "The Road From Coorain" is haunting in its exploration of landscape and family, and a young girl's struggle to find herself. In "True North", Jill leaves Australia for the U.S., working in Cambridge and in Toronto as an historian. In Boston, she meets her husband-to-be, John Conway. This book focuses on Jill Ker Conway's twenties, thirties, and forties. She becomes a professor, then an administrator. As a teacher, she focuses on history as a vital force in human life, paying special attention to the role of women. As an administrator, she tries to make scholarship more accessible to women of all ages, while being just to male scholars. If you loved "The Road From Coorain" and wanted to know what happened next, you will want to read this book. It seems a little distant compared to "Coorain", but Ms. Conway is a fine writer with important things to say - and the scene in which her husband proposes is high comedy! It reminded me of nothing so much as Jo March and Professor Bhaer. By the way, I love the title! "True North" isn't merely Canada, a country Jill Ker Conway comes to love. It's also her husband. The book ends on something of a cliffhanger; a third stage of life is beginning. I am going to want to read the sequel, "A Woman's Education". If "The Road From Coorain" will always be my favorite of these biographies, all are worth reading.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I normally enjoy memoirs and biography type books. I feel like this was a bit stuffy and hard for me to get into. I read about 1/3 of the book and skimmed through the rest.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.