True north : a memoir

by Jill K. Conway

Hardcover, 1994




New York : Alfred A. Knopf, c1994.


True North is the inspirational Canadian Chapter of Jill Ker Conway's life story, which began with her much love, bestselling memoir, The Road from Coorain.nbsp;nbsp;Beginning with her departure from Australia, Jill Ker Conway tells of her romance with Harvard House Master John Conway, of coming to grips with his manic-depressive disorder, and of their move to Canada in 1964 where she became the first female vice-president at the University of Toronto.nbsp;nbsp;In this vibrant memoir, we watch as a most private woman makes of herself a public persona in Canada.

User reviews

LibraryThing member reannon
Second of Conway's three autobiographical books. The first is Road to Coorain, which covered her childhood in Australia and college there. True North starts with her graduate schooling at Harvard, her marriage, and her years taeching at the University of Toronto and becoming an administrator there,
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and ends with her selection as president of Smith College. Conway is a writer who makes me remember the excitement of new ideas, the joy of learning, of comminicating with others about ideas. She grows so much in the course of the book, in knowlege, in confidence in her capacity, and in her understanding of relationships. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member NellieMc
The first 2/3 or so of the book was an excellent continuation of the first volume of the author's memoirs, [The Road from Coorain]. This story takes the author from her departure from her native Australia to Harvard where she completes her course work for her PhD in American history, her marriage,
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and her teaching at the University of Toronto. Unfortunately, a lot of the excitement, verve, even descriptive excellence disappears towards the end of the book when she takes on becoming the first Vice President at the U of T and eventually accepts the presidency of Smith College. Unfortunately, this becomes a about women's education and educational politics and is a lot less interesting, and now considerably dated. I also found the story of her marriage a bit forced. She acknowledged the problems of drinking (both) and manic depression (her husband--who was a renowned scholar in his own right), but most of the description is of an idyllic existence and, frankly, he sounds awfully understanding of her ambitions.The balance seems out of whack; it would have been more interesting with more nuance. It's almost as though she felt obligated to write about it, but didn't really want to.
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LibraryThing member scottjpearson
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
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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.

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