31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads {Day 5} The Road from Coorain

The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway. Day 5 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate ReaderThe Road from CoorainThe Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway. Day 5 of 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books / Great Nonfiction Reads by The Deliberate Reader by Jill Ker Conway

I had never heard of Ker Conway before reading her story, although I probably should have as she’s an accomplished scholar and was the first female president of Smith College. Her academic prominence is all the more impressive after learning about her background growing up on a remote Australian sheep farm.

Her harsh and lonely upbringing changes after the deaths of her father and brother, and her mother’s downward spiral into depression, and when she is 11 she is sent to boarding school in Sydney. She continues to experience academic success through her studies at the University of Sydney, and the memoir ends with her departure for America and the history program at Harvard.

It’s a beautifully written memoir, that handles incredibly difficult experiences with finesse. Her depictions of the Australian Outback are vivid, as are the less-flattering descriptions of the Australian chauvinism and narrow-mindedness towards intellectuals (especially female intellectuals). Overall her story is powerful and inspiring.

Publisher’s Description:
From the shelter of a protective family, to the lessons of tragedy and independence, this is an indelible portrait of a harsh and beautiful country and the inspiring story of a remarkable woman’s life.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction Books

If you like Ker Conway’s story, it continues in True North: A MemoirTrue North: A Memoir.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.

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  1. I am so excited to connect with you through 31 days. I want to read like you when I grow up. ๐Ÿ™‚ GREAT series!!

  2. I can’t believe I am writing you two days in a row, but I thought you would be interested to know there is a movie made from this book. When I went online to my library system (we have 30 plus libraries connected here in northern Wisconsin where I live) I found the book and saw there was a movie available also. So I am going to read the book first and then watch the movie. The movie was made in 2002. Perhaps you already knew about the movie? Thanks for all the great book ideas.

    • No, I had no idea that there was a movie about this book. I just went to my library & found that they have it on DVD. Thanks for letting me know – if you end up watching it, let me know what you think, would you?

      I’d watch it but I tend to spend any potential movie-watching time reading instead. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. So excited you’re doing this series! So many books… so little time ๐Ÿ™‚ (my free reading time is down this month so far due to my blogging… gotta get faster at it so I can read more again!)

    • I know, that’s how I always feel – so many books, so little time. And I’m sorry your reading time is down this month, but I’m loving your series.


  1. […] Australia, in honor of In a Sunburned Country and Road from Coorain. […]

  2. […] did we pick it? Because I pushed for it a tiny bit, both because I think it’s a great book, and because I think one memoir or biography a year is good for our reading […]

  3. […] Rereading this one because it was book club’s March pick. I picked it up with some trepidation, because I was the one who pushed for it to be the month’s pick – what if I ended up thinking that I shouldn’t have recommended it? Instead, while the very beginning was a bit slower than I remembered, the rest of it was as strong as I’d recalled. It’s a very thoughtful book, but so worth reading (just be warned that it can be a tough one too – there are difficult events recounted). It also made for a *fabulous* discussion book – I was supposed to facilitate the discussion, but most of it ended up being organic as there is just so much to talk about in the book. (Read my original review on it) […]

  4. […] The Road from Coorain by Jill Ker Conway […]

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