One of my favorite books of all time, and a hand-me-down from my mother, The Road from Coorain is a beautiful story of a young girl growing up in Australia’s Outback. Jill Ker was raised on her family’s sheep station in New South Wales. Her childhood was in total isolation — she had never seen any other children besides her brothers until she was about seven years old. During her adolescence, the Ker farm managed to scrape by during a drought that would last for seven years — a time when Jill’s father’s health would also drastically decline with the farm.
The Road from Coorain (1989) is the autobiography of Jill Ker Conway’s early years. She would eventually become the first woman president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the U.S.
There is so much beautiful imagery of the Australian landscape, wildlife, and the land’s colonial and aboriginal history in this novel. Imagining the isolated life of Jill Ker — her family’s livelihood so dependent on its surroundings — is unfathomable but inspirational.
One of my favorite quotes from the novel is: “…my new awareness that university study was about learning and reflection, not the cramming of texts and information. Now I had a purpose in life” (p. 168).
If the author found her purpose in life through a love of higher education, what are you willing to learn? What is your purpose?