From strength to strength: An autobiography

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9780725107253: From strength to strength: An autobiography
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One of Pan Macmillan's most successful and beloved authors, Sara was an inspiration to many. She wrote From Strength to Strength, followed by The Strength In Us All, Outback Wisdom, Some of my Friends Have Tails, A Year at Bullo and The Strength of Our Dreams. She won the Qantas Businesswoman of the Year Award in 1991, and worked tirelessly to help others with cancer. Sadly, Sara passed away in April 2005.

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Review:

In From Strength to Strength, Sara Henderson tells her life story, from her birth in September of 1936 up through September of 1991, 55 remarkable years later. It's a life worth telling, and worth reading about. And though the events of Henderson's life are by turns dramatic, tragic, and inspiring, her personality comes through as down-to-earth, straightforward, and sincere. She could be any one of us, a normal person caught up in a whirlwind of a life that demanded more than she thought she had to give, but who ultimately surprised herself and her community with her tenacity and resolve.

As the title indicates, Sara sees strength and perseverance as important themes in her life, and much of her autobiography is spent detailing events that helped develop or exhibited those essential characteristics. With four older brothers, she had ample opportunities to learn how to stick up for herself. Other formative tenacity-building experiences included her short but successful tennis competition career (at 14 she was picked to represent New South Wales in the under-15 schoolgirls team) and the car crash at 19 that curtailed her dream of winning Wimbledon. She lay flat on her back for eight months while her bones healed, and then confounded the doctors' predictions by not only learning to walk again but resuming tennis, too.

Sara got a job and for a few years lived a sedately rewarding life. Then Charles English Henderson III entered her world, and everything changed. Swept off her feet by his charm, charisma, and attentions, she wed him within the year, and her life became a tempest of romantic champagne and strawberry evenings, furious recriminations over slights and broken promises, and near-death sailing trips through the eye of a hurricane. They lived for a while on a yacht in Hong Kong's harbor, and their first two girls were born in Manila. Then, after five years abroad, Charlie decided to close his failing overseas business and open a cattle station in Australia's Northern Territory. "The station," writes Sara, "was two hundred miles southwest of Darwin by air, a staggering five hundred by road, if you could call it a road. Our nearest neighbours were about one hundred miles away."

Throughout her memoir, Henderson's tone is from the heart rather than polished or sophisticated. The prose is not honed, and it is clear that the woman behind the words is not a professional writer. However, her humor and personality come through as clearly as the story she sets out to tell. What she refers to as the "madcap happenings of my life" would be deemed tragic by most, while to her, they seem in retrospect to have been the means by which she achieved her character and stature. Unlike other adventure tales, From Strength to Strength will not make you long to experience all that the author experienced. But she does emerge as a remarkable woman, and the components of her autobiography make for a compelling story and an inspirational read, if not necessarily an enviable life. --Stephanie Gold

From Publishers Weekly:

An Australian bestseller in 1992, this memoir of a woman's adventure-filled life is marred by a lack of insight. Born in 1936 in comfortable circumstances only slightly mitigated by the specter of WW II deprivation, Henderson grew up playing tennis competitively. When she was 19, massive injuries in a car accident crushed her hopes for a life on the circuit but made her tough and resourceful. When Charles Henderson III appeared, he was a slightly mysterious American whom the author describes as a war hero and shipping magnate. After their 1960 wedding in Hong Kong, the couple moved to Manila. When the shipping business failed, the family--by then rounded out with three young daughters--was forced to move to a million-acre ranch Charles acquired in the remote and rugged Northern Territory. At the Bullo River Cattle Station, Sara fixed water pumps, killed crocodiles, rode in cattle "musters" (roundups) and managed the ranch. In her telling, Charles, who was often distracted or unfaithful, brought her to the verge of a breakdown many times. Taking full charge of the station after her husband's illness in 1986, Henderson, with the help of her daughters, has run the place successfully enough to become Australia's Businesswoman of 1990 and a familiar figure in the Australian media. B&w photos. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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