True North: A Memoir
Vintage, August 1995. Trade Paperback. Used - Very Good. Item #255047
With all the openness to life, all the largeness of spirit, that made her girlhood memoir, The Road from Coorain, an acclaimed - and beloved - bestseller, Jill Ker Conway continues her story. She was twenty-five when we left her, driven by a hunger to know and to understand, boarding a plane that would carry her far from her Australian homeland. As True North begins she lands, appropriately enough, in a hurricane, in New York. And is soon at Harvard, a graduate student in history experiencing both exhilaration and culture shock; discovering among friends of many backgrounds an easier sociability than she has ever known; delighting in classes that seem charged with energy, and in the perception that ideas were being taken seriously - yet still feeling like an extraterrestrial on the American planet. We see her joining with five other women to form a household that becomes an "almost magical, " hilarious, and harmonious community - the community that functions as her family when she meets the Harvard professor and housemaster who will become her husband, John Conway, himself a historian, Canadian born and bred, decorated for heroism in World War II - the complex man whose mind and spirit complement her own. We see them marrying and learning to live together - during a year at Oxford, in Rome, and as they settle into the new world of Canadian university life - happy with each other, while coping, not always well, with her classically obsessive thesis writing, her as-yet-unresolved conflict with her mother, his periodic bouts of depression, and her realization that even though John's integrity, courage, and devotion to humanistic learning have become the compass point - the true north - bywhich she steers, there will be times when she has to navigate alone. We witness the moment of her spiritual arrival on this continent and her discovery of her warrior self - fighting for equity in her own career and for other women. This is how a most private woman found for hers.
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.