A Journey into Womanhood
by Coral S. Jocic
Trafford Publishing

"For the love of a man, she had gone against her grain and, for this reason, must carry within her a loss of dignity and burden of guilt. Little price really to pay for the intense happiness mutually enjoyed?"

In this coming-of-age novel set in the 1950s, a young, naive Australian teacher (Josephine, known as Joey) asserts her independence and leaves home. Stranded in London after her colleague suddenly marries an Englishman, Joey seeks the warmth of southern France where she meets Jan, a vagabond Swedish musician. Possessive and manipulative, he drags her into an abyss of regret. Pregnant and realizing that Jan, who has been living off her meager wages, will never make a commitment as a father, Joey decides to have an abortion. This terrifying scenario is played out in a lonely farmhouse with only one "friend"—a stranger whom she met by chance on her travels—to help her survive the pain, fear and guilt.

A Journey into Womanhood is dramatic and intelligent, deftly interweaving the sexually diverse mores of foreign cultures with Joey's confusion and longing for love. In the Australian village where she grew up, sexual standards were rigid and young people rarely strayed. In France, Jan can wangle a key to Joey's flat from her landlady because sexual liaisons are accepted there. Jan, a liberated Swede, makes Joey feel prudish and slowly breaks down her resistance. Debut author Jocic, whose own world travels are doubtless echoed in her heroine's explorations, seems already expert at her craft as she vividly reveals how Joey's passions and insecurities predestine her downfall. Entries in Joey's journal, including emotive poetry, reveal pangs of heartbreak, but in the end, Joey writes "je ne regretted rien!" (i.e. no regrets). Though the author draws no absolute conclusions, it is clear that her heroine's slippage corresponds to the gradual deterioration of her hometown, seen through "mirrored sad eyes" on her return. This well-written, believable tale of a young woman's downfall and gradual, tentative recovery should garner praise among thoughtful readers.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home