Home > Culture > Another turn in the road

Another turn in the road

Community Books Australia
RRP: $26.00

There is a school of thought that posits that any but celebrities who write memoirs do so out of a misplaced sense of their own importance and that is sometimes the case. However, the diaries and memoirs of so-called “ordinary” people are often well worth taking the time to read.

I must point out that the author of this particular memoir is a friend of mine, but she is a person whose involvement in the life of the church means that many a potential Journey reviewer would fall into the same category.

In the foreword to Another turn in the road, Betty Willis regrets not being able to use Robert Frost’s line "the road less traveled" as her book’s title and this would have been a fitting title for her memoir.

For the "shy, nervous girl from the bush" to leave her home in rural Queensland in 1943 planning to enrol in a crash course in teacher training, only to end up working in the Brisbane procurements office of the US army is an interesting enough deviation from the common path mapped out for girls (particularly girls from church families) in those days.

Her journey from there, through a number of challenging detours, to Rarongo Theological College in PNG (beginning in the year she turned 50) and on to still be working in the Pacific Islands in her 80s is remarkable indeed.

Willis gives interesting insights into rural life in Queensland in the early 20th century, particularly the struggle to educate one’s children.

Good use is made of photos and original material written throughout Willis’s life, including poems and her newsletters from Rarongo, giving a sense of immediacy and intimacy to the narrative.

One finishes Another turn in the road with a strong sense of having shared in some way in the journey of a remarkable Christian woman who has no false humility but likewise not misplaced vanity.

As she said in one of her poems, written on a return visit to PNG.

It is not always joyful, going back,
But my journey into yesterday was glad

It is not always joyful, going back,
But I – I have been blessed beyond all words

Another turn in the road is available from Betty Willis for $28.50 posted to Australian addresses. Orders to 2/10 Daranlee Court, Toowoomba QLD 4350.

Reviewed by Annette Dale