The Road from Coorain
I enjoy Masterpiece Theatre very much and look forward to every show, even the re-runs. I really enjoyed The Road from Coorain. The movie just pulled me in. I could almost feel what Jill felt for everything around her; it was almost like I was living there then.
Thank you for adapting the first of three autobiographical books by Jill Ker Conway. The Road from Coorain covers her life from her childhood to her acceptance for graduate study at Harvard University. I remember that there was a huge fuss over this book when it was first published in the late 1980s, but for some unknown reason, I never read it until I saw the story televised on Masterpiece Theatre. Now I wish that I had read it sooner. She is truly a remarkable woman. She is an intelligent, resourceful, visionary who also understands the value of the past, and how and what we can learn from it. As an alumna of Smith College, I wish that I had had an opportunity to know her better. My first year at Smith was her last year as president, so she was not teaching any courses. Smith was so very fortunate to have her!
Since Masterpiece Theatre has moved to Monday nights, my schedule doesn't allow me to watch it as often. I happened to be up late Sunday night and caught the repeat of The Road from Coorain. This was a truly engrossing story; I now feel compelled to read the book. Thanks.
After watching The Road from Coorain Monday night, I had this weird sensation that it was different from the book. So I reread the book and in it I do not find that she had an affair with a married man or that her mother said, "He had 'married' written all over him." Was Jill Ker Conway consulted on this version of her story? Also, the portrayal of her mother is certainly a theme in both the book and the film -- and her lack of sympathy when her mother takes her on two quite expensive trips (in the book), to Ceylon and then to Europe, makes me wonder. Maybe this is the result of conflicts which I had establishing independence from my mother, but writing a memoir in your 50s or even 60s would make you think there would be some sympathy for what had happened to her mother.
The pace was so sloooow, the editing choppy, continuity wanting. If I hadn't read The Road from Coorain I would have started to surf the channels. I don't think the movie stimulated me to read the book, and yet Jill Ker Conway's story is most interesting and engaging. The director needs more skill in filmmaking. What a missed opportunity.
I have read over half of the coming-of-age books that are listed at Masterpiece Theatre Online, and heard of some of the others. This is an excellent list. The book I would like to add to the list is Speak to the Earth: Wanderings and Reflections Among Elephants and Mountains by Vivienne de Watteville. She is an Englishwoman who goes on safari with her father in Africa, in the same era as Beryl Markham. Her story is uniquely powerful. I highly recommend it.
St. Paul, MN
I was so touched by The Road from Coorain. It was a beautiful and haunting account of Dr. Conway's life, and the cinematography and story line were so well done. Bravo to the cast of actors who portrayed this amazing woman and her family. I am eager to read more of Dr. Conway's work, and learn more of her philanthropic endeavors.
I enjoyed The Road from Coorain, and will now read the book that I have had for years but not gotten around to read. I do want to suggest another Australian coming-of-age memoir that I have read (and taught at the college level), which tells a very different story about a girl growing up in Australia. The title is My Place, by Sally Morgan, an aboriginal.
Teaching these two memoirs of growing up in Australia should prove quite fruitful.
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