The Road from Coorain - Jill Ker Conway
Coorain was a large sheep-raising property in western Australia owned by Jill Ker Conway’s parents. The values attached to landowning in the 19th and early 20th century (and enforced in the Ker family) not only emphasized thrift and hard work, but they were rigidly class-conscious and completely colonial, seeing England as "home" to an extent that in hindsight had its comic aspects; Conway does not fail to mock the way her school imposed the blazers and gloves of an English springtime on children stewing in 100-degree Sydney. Although Conway was initially inclined to fall in line with these expectations, she could not, because by the time she was a young woman, in the 1950s, this way of life was dead, and she was too clear-eyed and honest not to see it.

Conway’s mother was a very strong-willed woman, which had its good and bad aspects. She rose magnificently to the challenge of running the household at Coorain; but a succession of losses, and the lack of development of the talents that could have made her a skilled professional, left her focused more and more on controlling the lives of her children. Gaining emotional independence from her mother among the hardest battles Conway had to fight, as hard as overcoming the limitations forced on Australian women, and as finding a way to live socially after having been raised in the obsolete colonial mentality.

This is the story of the personal development of an intellectual; the author conveys the excitement of finding ways to use her mind, as well as all the stages of reaching her permanent place in the world, including her discovery of a distinctively Australian perspective. Told in prose clear as water, it’s a tale to learn from.