This remarkable memoir is the classic account of the transgender journey. It is all the more extraordinary because it is the life story of a figure who, it seemed, seamlessly and publicly charted a course through the English establishment - James Morris, outstanding journalist, historian and travel writer, famed for a peerless writing style. But all the while he was concealing a very different inner world: from the age of four he felt that, despite his body, he was really a girl.
Determined to be true to an undeniable inner impulse, James Morris, in his 40s, became Jan Morris. It was the 1970s, a time and culture far from our 21st century, where such matters have now become commonplace. What was it that impelled him to take such a frightening and irrevocable step? He faced the mental and physical challenges - the operation had to be done in Morocco and, as a well-known figure, attention from the world media could not be avoided. What pressures would that put on the family - a loving wife and growing children living in a North Wales village? But that inner impulse could not be denied.
Jan Morris tells the story in a clear and honest manner, without a trace of sentimentality or sensationalism. She recounts the emotional, physical, sexual and social issues that abound on such a journey in detail and, through this highly personal memoir, presents a memorable insight into the 'conundrum'. Jan is modest by nature, and it is only by implication that one becomes aware of the immense courage and integrity needed to see the transition through.
This is a deeply moving, beautifully written, unforgettable memoir. Sensational - yes, in a quiet way. Revealing - yes; no punches are pulled. But in the end, it is humane and uplifting.
Jan Morris, now in her 90s, has written a new introduction for this recording. Roy McMillan has recorded Morris' major historical work, the Pax Britannica trilogy (available on Audible), and is the ideal reader for Conundrum.
"A perfectly formed work of art, achieving the state of grace to which its creator so elegantly aspires." (
Times Literary Supplement)
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"A troubled soul achieving serenity"
- Rachel Redford