Read My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin Online


Trapped on her parents' farm in the hardscrabble Australian outback, sixteen-year-old Sybylla Melvyn loves the bush but not the toil it brings. She longs for refinement, and most of all she longs to achieve great things.Suddenly she falls under the gaze of wealthy, handsome Harry Beecham and finds herself choosing between the conventional path of marriage and her plans forTrapped on her parents' farm in the hardscrabble Australian outback, sixteen-year-old Sybylla Melvyn loves the bush but not the toil it brings. She longs for refinement, and most of all she longs to achieve great things.Suddenly she falls under the gaze of wealthy, handsome Harry Beecham and finds herself choosing between the conventional path of marriage and her plans for a 'brilliant career'....

Title : My Brilliant Career
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781844088164
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 317 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

My Brilliant Career Reviews

  • Jane
    2019-03-14 11:42

    In 1901 a remarkable heroine made her debut, in a book that purports to be her autobiography.If you took equal amounts of Becky Sharp, Cassandra Mortmain and Angel Devereaux, if you mixed them together, with verve and brio, and you might achieve a similar result, but you wouldn’t quite get there, because Sybylla Melvyn is a true one-off.She’s also nearly impossible to explain; a curious mixture of confidence and insecurity, tactlessness and sensitivity, forthrightness and thoughtfulness …. She’s maddening andshe’s utterly charming …But the most important thing about Sybylla, the thing that she doesn’t ever quite say, is that she wants to set her own path in life, to be mistress of her own destiny. That’s not easy when you’re the daughter of a poor farmer from Possum Gully. It was a hard life; you were either working or you were sleeping; there was nothing else. Her mother came from a good family and her father, a working man. had tried to improve his family’s situation, but he gambled and lost. And then he turned to drink. It was hardly surprising that Sybylla’s preoccupation with books, music and drama drove her poor mother to distraction.In the end she decided to send Syblla to her own mother on the family farm. It was a much bigger, much more prosperous farm, and it was much closer to society. Sybylla was in her element, with time to indulge her love for the arts and performing, and with an appreciative audience; her grandmother, aunt and uncle were amused and entertained. She blossomed, and her insecurity about her appearance and her disappointment with the world began to slip away.She might have gone to Sydney, to become a performer, guided by a family friend, lawyer Everard Grey. She might have married Harry Beecham, the owner of the neighbouring farm, who was well-off enough and indulgent enough to allow her the freedom to write her book. But she dithered, and as soon as anyone got to close she pushed them away. She still had insecurities, and she still wanted to be in charge of her own fate, and to dream her own dreams.But Sybylla’s fate wasn’t in her own hands; her father had taken out a loan and, in lieu of interest, he had given his daughter’s services as a governess. In a place so much poorer and starker than Possum Gully. She pleaded to be rescued, but she was stuck there. She tried to hold on but it was a struggle, and I think it would be fair to say that Sybylla was not cut out to be a governess.Sybylla’s story ended where it started – at Possum Gully. That sounds downbeat, but it wasn’t entirely, because she had lived and learned.As a story, ‘My Brilliant Career’ is much like it’s heroine; brilliant but infuriating. Because, of course, Sybylla is the story, and though the other characters are well drawn and the story is well told everything else is in her shadow.I had unanswered questions. Why was her mother quite so hard on her? How did Sybylla become quite so accomplished? And why did nobody ever really lose patience with her?But I loved following Sybylla’s journey, watching her grow up, and it was lovely to see her gaining a little tact and diplomacy, maturity even along the way. The writing is overblown and melodramatic, but it suits the heroine and it paints her world wonderfully well. And, best of all, it shows the restrictions that her gender and the times she lived placed on her, and it shows that none of that can break her spirit.It’s a coming of age story – no more and no less – but it’s a coming of age story like no other.Miles Franklin wrote ‘My Brilliant Career’ when she was just sixteen years-old. It’s a wonderful achievement, and though she was upset that it was read as autobiographical, it’s unsurprising that it was taken that way. I suspect that there’s a grain of truth a vivid imagination has turned into a compelling story.Certainly that’s what Sybylla would have done …

  • Suzanne
    2019-02-28 13:35

    About time this ‘Aussie girl’ read this book, written by a fellow ‘Aussie girl’. Miles Franklin the iconic Australian author, has penned this classic, written when she was barely an adult herself. She was a woman born of another era. Her times were meant to be spent, toiling the land (or should I say house), performing house duties and supporting her family that was lacking money. She was better than that – well she knew she was better spent bettering herself and continuing the continuance of lifelong learning - she yearned to be able to write, perform music and use her cleverness for something better. Sybylla is 16 and this is ‘her’ story. I am not overly romantic or have any grandiose visions of happily ever afters or needing a man to complete a picture of happiness, but even I was disappointed for her. Miles comments that there is no plot, as her life does not contain one – or anyone else that she knows has one either. There is too much work to be toiled than to have the luxury of a plot. Harry Beecham calling her Syb made me sad as he was lovely. There was also another lovely scene where Sybylla talks of Harry’s lovely large comforting hands. I borrowed the physical copy after listening to this on audio, but searching for a little paragraph to place the quote here was too hard!An interesting classic that has its little bit of relevance today.As an after thought, and after perusing a lovely hard copy that was donated to the University library where I work, I would not recommend listening to the audio version. Too much to be missed out on in regards to the poetry.

  • Eve
    2019-03-15 09:25

    Hmm, I've always said that Jane Eyre is without a doubt my #1 favorite book. After today, this is in close running for the spot. So much to think about. Sigh. I hope my review (to come later) will do this book justice.

  • Brenda
    2019-03-18 13:25

    3.5★sSybylla Melvyn was the eldest of her siblings and living in poverty with her parents in rural NSW in the late 1800s. She fought with her mother constantly, was wilful and headstrong and after being told by her mother continually that she was ugly and useless, Sybylla believed it all. The day came that she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother and aunt on a property which was the opposite of her family home; she flourished under their care, enjoyed music and the arts and the company of more genteel companions. But her headstrong nature and constant assurance that she wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love would drive all around her to distraction. When she met young Harold Beecham, wealthy owner of the adjoining property, his quietness and seeming lack of emotion caused Sybylla some angst. After a time a sudden and unexpected change of circumstances meant Harold departed while Sybylla left the comfort of her grandmother’s home for a position as governess for a number of slovenly children in an equally filthy home…I’m glad I read this very Australian classic; the descriptions of the harsh country in the never ending drought, the hard work of property owners to make ends meet, the struggle of families to put food on the table – what a terrible time those long ago days were. Sybylla was a difficult character to like – her arrogance on the one hand and low opinion of herself on the other made her someone I felt the great need to slap! Again and again! Anyone who hasn’t read this classic Australian novel (which seems like an autobiography, but isn’t) by the wonderful Miles Franklin (Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin) most definitely should do so.

  • Joanne
    2019-02-22 13:46

    Miles Franklin - Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin - is probably Australia's most revered female writer. "My Brilliant Career" is her very first book, published in 1901 when she was barely 21. It was hugely successful, but she eventually withdrew it from publication until after her death, because it upset her that so many people believed it to be autobiographical. It probably was so, but like most new writers, she perhaps didn't think others would make the connections.It's a passionate book, both about life and love, and about the Australian bush. The heroine, Sybylla Melvyn, is probably as boisterous and passionate as Franklin was herself. The writing is of its time - it's wordy and descriptive, often overblown by today's preferences, but the fierceness with which she loves the country and its people carries the novel through. Sometimes I wanted to slap Sybylla - often in fact! - but she was a girl on a mission - her own life - and nothing was going to stop her. Not even the perfect man, when he appeared on the horizon. She was an early Australian feminist.Miles Franklin went on to write another seven novels under her name, and seven more as "Brent of Bin Bin", in an effort to hide her identity. She also wrote several non-fiction books.It's a masterfully written book by such a young first time writer, especially for its time. But you need to be prepared for long wordy, reflective passages. Just go with it.It almost seems cheeky to give it a rating - so I'll just go with 5.

  • Karen ⊰✿
    2019-03-19 09:43

    Sybylla is headstrong, feisty, opinionated and independent. At the start of the book she is a teenager growing up in rural Australia in the 1890s in a very poor household with an alcoholic father and a mother who has come from money and is now living in poverty.To Sybylla's relief, her much wealthier Grandmother asks to take her for a time to "straighten" her out and Sybylla finds a much more comfortable life, until she is ultimately forced to take a role as a governess and decide what her future 'career' shall be. Wife? Governess? Spinster daughter?I absolutely loved the time and place. It is so different to the Australia I know, but also had the familiar descriptions of oppressive heat, dry ground and smell of eucalyptus. The writing is very well done and is interesting to think about how Ms Franklin was able to get support from Henry Lawson to have this published with what must have been quite a controversial main character for the time.As the book reached its conclusion, however, I really found Sybylla quite irritating. I was hoping for a bit more personality growth and maturity and I was actually left really disappointed with the ending. Although I suppose that is what also makes this a unique book as the ending was quite unusual for the time and unexpected.A classic I am glad to have finally read!

  • Karin
    2019-02-22 16:29

    I was expecting a much more enjoyable read than this since I have mainly enjoyed the Australian novels I have read in the past. This is a classic and there is no doubt that this writer had talent and I can see why she later made a career out of writing, but this novel, which was written when she was 16 has a protagonist who was apparently ahead of her time (yes and no, since there were others of that time with the same commitment to not marry, and even before her time, although it was certainly rare), but overall I found her rather selfish and short sighted. This and her treatment of one of the characters spoiled what might have been an enjoyable read, once I got past the beginning of the book, which I really didn't like. There were entire stretches that I enjoyed, and I thought it would be a three star read, but, alas, they were not enough of the book to make it so.There is no summary here, because there is one on the book description.

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-03 12:46

    I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this book.For its time, and the fact that it was written by Franklin when she was a teenager (!), it is a brilliant novel. The writing ability that Franklin had so young is amazing - she manages to capture so much of Australia, and her protagonist, Sybylla, lives and breathes from the first moment she steps onto the page.I did find Sybylla to be a frustrating protagonist, due to her general inability to decide on what she wants (or who she wants), but that frustrating nature is part of what makes her feel real. Even when she was annoying me with her indecision and mood swings, I found myself wishing fervently that she would get what she wanted (if she could only decide what it was!).I'm really glad that I picked this up as part of the Australian Women's Writer's Challenge, since I'd shamefully not read any of Franklin's work before. I find myself awed by her talent, and deeply impressed with how much she worked to change the face of Australian literature.

  • Elena T.
    2019-03-11 13:43

    Sybylla Melvyn è bloccata, intrappolata nel bush australiano in una vita che non le appartiene, quando ciò che vorrebbe è sognare di libri e orizzonti perduti e coltivare la sua passione per la scrittura e per i sogni. Profondo, attuale, una donna di ieri ma così simile alla donna di oggi che si barcamena tra amore e carriera, in una lotta di classe e di genere, nel tentativo di non cucirsi addosso la vita tanto convenzionale dalla quale tanto spesso ha provato a scappare.Promotrice di riviste letterarie e femminista convinta, la Franklin aveva iniziato a scrivere il suo capolavoro a sedici anni. Si rivelò il grande classico della letteratura australiana dal quale venne tratto l’omonimo film diretto da Gillian Armstrong con protagonisti Sam Neil e Judy Davies. Delizioso ☕

  • Angela Randall
    2019-03-12 10:30

    I read this for year 12 English, so my memories of it are both vague and tainted by the fact that I had to dissect the book. End result though: I still love it.When I started the book, I found it very difficult to get in to. The protagonist just seemed to be a whining, demanding, annoying excuse for a human being. It's really tough to keep reading when you start to hate the character telling the story. In fact, I recall a "first impressions" essay I wrote after reading very little of the book where I said pretty much exactly that. I hated it. I even considered dropping English altogether. I really did not want to read another word.But I was forced to go on, and I'm glad for that because the book was actually incredibly good. Without giving away any spoilers, the protagonist becomes far less annoying and evolves into someone you can really feel for. Just keep reading. This book will reward you for it.

  • Mel
    2019-03-01 11:44

    About a year ago I realised, with the exception of Nick Cave, I'd never actually read any books by Australian authors and that I should probably fix that. I throughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't quite believe it was written by a 16 year old. It was sort of the anti-Little House on the Praire. Here being a poor agricultural worker was very hard work, people went hungary and people lost what little they had very easily. There were drunken fathers who ruined lives and kindly neighbours who helped out. The book was also a little the opposite of Jane Austen as while there was a wealthy landowner who fell for the young heroine she definitely did NOT fall in love with him back and spent most of the book trying to escape his marriage proposals. I have to say I really enjoyed the character of Sybylla. She was highly opinionated. She was disatisfied with life and wanted more, music, literature and culture. Yet she gave up on these things to maintain her own independence. She was a very strong willed person and yet the same time suffered from very low self esteem, to the point where it crippled her ability to make good descisions. She came across as somewhat manic depressive, blissfully happy and then having a depressive breakdown. Yet her emotions were very real and her discussions very frank. I loved the way she spoke very openly about the problems of her life and the society she was living in. From the sexism, to the drinking to the droughts. If she reminded me of anyone it was a little of Claudine from Collette's novels. Though perhaps slightly more intelligent and insightful. But I think the two of them would have made a truly fantastic couple. This really was a fantastic book and I have already bought a copy of the sequal and am really looking forward to reading it.

  • Pauline
    2019-03-04 11:35

    Henry Lawson famously avoided making an opinion on the ‘girlishly emotional’ parts of this book, so this ‘girl reader’ is going out on a limb to say that it is precisely those parts that make this book worth reading. In refusing to give us a romantic heroine who plays by the rules of the genre, Miles Franklin has created a rare and fascinating character. Instead of reassuring us, Franklin leaves open the crucial questions of what is good conduct in a young woman, and what is a price worth paying to secure financial security. The teenage Sybylla is flamboyant, disrespectful and given to frequent solipsism. She is driven almost mad by her lack of options as a poor and apparently ‘ugly’ ‘little bush girl’ and despite the obvious economic risks refuses to conform or even apologise for that lack of conformity where this would imply divergence with her own conscience. Ralph Waldo Emerson (as author of “Self-reliance”) would have been proud. Or would he? Miles Franklin was way ahead of her time in giving a young woman the right to sacrifice the prospect of husband and family for her own conscience. Yes, it’s Australian, but it’s not the cloying nineteenth century morality tale you might expect, and it’s far easier to read than the nineteenth century English novels, with a galloping rhythm and a great ear for dialogue. Chapter Twelve was the low point for me. After that I began to seriously appreciate Miles Franklin for creating a complex, often annoying and thoroughly likeable character in Sybylla Penelope Melvyn. Happy Australia Day to lazy, ungrateful sheilas everywhere.

  • Lucy
    2019-02-27 08:31

    I am actually giving this book 3.5/5 because it wasn't bad enough to earn a 3, nor was it good enough for me to give it a 4.I read this book for my Advanced English class and there were times when I wish I could just get this book over and done with; other times, however, I quite enjoyed it.I really dislike Sybylla. She is so vain and conceited, and WEIRD. Honestly, you should read this book just to see how she thinks. Her mindset is so strange! The way she treats her suitors- it just makes me want to slap her! And the way she treated Harold Beecham at the end of the novel. He was fully pleading with her to marry him (she was engaged to him for three years- though they were physically separated during that time) but she continued to reject him until he gave in and left her. She's such a bitch! (Mind the language).Other than my annoyance with the protagonist, I quite liked this book. It isn't like other 19th century books- no, this book is in a category all its own. The novel started off rather boring, but as I progressed, and met Harry, there was quite a lot of romance which I enjoyed, so it wasn't too bad.

  • Jillian
    2019-03-05 10:51

    I liked it. I've always avoided this book being under the misunderstanding that it was a dry and dusty tome. (ie boring!) I'm glad I gave it a go, as it is certainly not boring. Sybylla is an odd girl, kind of like Anne of Green Gables with a fervent feminist streak. It's nice to see a romance written by a young girl that doesn't have a cloying, happy ending, and I admire her resolve to do the "right" thing by Harold in the end, even though that may not be what he thinks he wants. I'm quite certain I could never have been that committed to an ideal given similar lack of opportunities, but perhaps if I'd had to grow up in the stultifying world of colonial Australia things would be very different. The book is definitely a bit childish and melodramatic, but I think it shows nicely the way that feminism and female suffrage were viewed at the time of Federation, from the point of view of someone who lived through it.

  • Lúcia Collischonn
    2019-03-23 09:40

    I hate Sybylla. That's right. She wants to be sad and lonely and poor. I do not pity her because she brought this on herself. At the same time, I understand her in sooooooooo many ways. Just adding: Harold Beecham should be played by Hugh Jackman. Hugh Jackman should play ALL THE CHARACTERS OKAY. HUGH JACKMAN.Now for something completely different: My brilliant career is Jane Eyre meets Pride and prejudice IN THE AUSTRALIAN BUSH.

  • Jorge Cienfuegos
    2019-03-07 10:39

    Me ha gustado mucho esta historia costumbrista del campo australiano. No sé qué ha sido, porque en teoría no cuenta gran cosa...; quizá la prosa o puede que esa heroína con una mentalidad tan poco recomendable para una mujer en aquella época. El caso es que ha sido un grato descubrimiento.

  • Kel
    2019-03-19 08:46

    I first read 'My Brilliant Career' when I was in high school as part of the English curriculum. I could not remember much about the story, but I could not shake the feeling that identified greatly with the main character, Sybylla Melvyn.As part of my personal journey of rediscovering the Great Australian Spirit, I decided to re-read 'My Brilliant Career'. I have been pleasantly surprised.Although at times Sybylla Melvyn annoyed with her self-centric, teenage view of the world, many other times she surprised me with her view of Australian women and their lot in the late 1800's. From the oral traditions of my family and other reading and research, it might be argued that Sybylla was quite a 'rebel' for the time, although there were possibly many other young women right across Australia that shared her dreams to be free of the normal female and social class restraints of the time.In several parts I couldn't help but feel Sybylla's thoughts of herself, and her self-centredness are commonly reflected in our current Generation Y (who are often berated for such feelings and thoughts), but on the other hand, Sybylla's readiness to do whatever tasks need to be done (no matter how begrudgingly) is certainly indicative of the young of times gone by.'My Brilliant Career' is inspirational in that Sybylla remains true to herself no matter how tempting it might be to 'seel her soul' in order to escape what appears to be a life sentence of poverty, hard work, and loneliness.The language of the book intrigued me. The construction of sentences, the vocabulary, the periods of lyrical and poetic waxing were refreshing in this era of often blunt and to-the-point story-telling.

  • Camille
    2019-03-19 16:46

    The condescending airs and graces of Sybylla and her narration had me grinding my teeth and recalling very clearly the 1927 autobiography My Life by Isadora Duncan. I wanted more Pride and Prejudice and less 'woe is me'. But in the last quarter of the book I began to realise how I'm not much different from Sybylla with my prejudices and condescension. You don't travel? You don't like to dine out at places where the napkins are made of cloth? You don't appreciate a bit of art? You don't operate in the same value, socio-economic or physical realm? Here I was reading the book and becoming exasperated by a creature whose character and actions were displeasing to me, yet were merely my own behaviour in its 19th century guise. And the more that I think about this book, the more horrid my own self will appear. Miles Franklin certainly shows her feminist ardour in this book, and although I was wanting a different ending that conformed with the fairy tale we've been brought up on, it actually challenges the boundaries and moves the fenceposts of women's rights in Australia at the end of the 19th century.

  • Jess
    2019-03-12 13:37

    Did I really start reading this on Australia Day? How fitting if I did. Nevertheless, I must feel a little ashamed that, as an Australian and a feminist and Australian studies type person, I had not read this to now. I kept on meaning to know, other things. Look, don't worry, my wrist has been thoroughly slapped and the most important thing is that I have read it now. Even more important, I suppose, is that I really liked it. Sybylla is exasperating and entertaining, awful and wonderful all at the same time. I am not one to get too caught up in the Anglo pioneer bush myth-making nonsense, so what is interesting about this is its portrayal of a modern Australian girl in that setting. Rural Australia, in Franklin's portayal, can be both idyllic and harsh. Deep love of country pervades the novel, but it runs alongside a social progressivist sentiment. It is no wonder that Henry Lawson had taken to the novel as he had, and not just for the shout-out - his mother Louisa Lawson is one of Australia's important early feminists. Next up: I'll finally watch the movie adaptation - more wrist slapping!

  • Buffy Greentree
    2019-02-28 08:34

    Okay, so I know this is a Classic that I should have read ages ago, but I hadn't. Furthermore, I hadn't seen the film, and didn't know even the basic plot. So it came as a beautiful surprise to find it so young and fresh in its writing. However, as much as I loved the writing and the Australian feel, there were parts that I just couldn't get over. 'But why would she do that? That makes no sense at all,' kept coming to my mind. So it is wonderful, and makes me want to be a better writer and have more fun with the English language, but I cannot give it five stars as it left me unsatisfied at the end.

  • Any Length
    2019-03-23 14:38

    A thoroughly disappointing and annoying book. Until the last page hope remains that this woman will see sense and marry her suitor who is offering her all she longed for. A room and all the paper to write her books. Yet the "stubborn, stupid cow" would not budge and remains living in her squalid circumstances and wastes away her talent and her chances of ever making it. I felt like tearing up the book.

  • Jessica
    2019-02-27 13:24

    I used the Librivox recording for this. Most of the readers were very good, especially Elizabeth and Magdalena. I read chapter 30 on Gutenberg though.I really like this book. Sybilla is very believable and stubborn and there are a lot of forward thinking passages. Of course, there was still some very old fashioned things as well (for example, how Aboriginal and Chinese people were written about).

  • Helen King
    2019-03-07 12:34

    A classic book which has been on my 'to read' list for a while. Interesting to see the descriptions of life in the bush in the late 1890s, and fascinating to think it was written by a 16 year old, but (probably not surprisingly), it is pretty uneven in its style and the language is a bit ordinary. One to have ticked off the list

  • Angeline
    2019-03-20 14:35

    If the ending was any good, I could excuse the slower parts at the beginning, but the ending was terrible! It's given me a new appreciation for classics with good endings!

  • Ali
    2019-03-20 16:28

    It is very many years since I first read this book, and I had remembered it with great affection, I knew I had loved it back then, but to be honest I hadn’t remembered anything of the story. Ausreading month was therefore the perfect excuse to re-read this classic – I now think I’ll have to re-read the sequel in the not too distant future. Earlier in the month I read Ada Cambridge’s The Three Miss Kings – which I really enjoyed. The two novels were written only a decade apart – and the stories take place within about fifteen years or so of each other. While Ada Cambridge’s novel portrays the modern vibrant society of late nineteenth century Melbourne, Miles Franklin’s famous novel has a more rural setting, and a society of an altogether different type. “Our new house was a ten-roomed wooden structure, built on a barren hillside. Crooked stunted gums and stringybarks, with a thick underscrub of wild cherry, hop, and hybrid wattle, clothed the spurs which ran up from the back of the detached kitchen. Away from the front of the house were flats, bearing evidence of cultivation, but a drop of water was nowhere to be seen. Later, we discovered a few round, deep, weedy waterholes down on the flat, which in rainy weather swelled to a stream which swept all before it. Possum Gully is one of the best watered spots in the district, and in that respect has stood to its guns in the bitterest drought”Sybylla Melvyn is fifteen as the novel opens – living with her family in the outback of the 1890’s. Sybylla loves the wild outback landscape of Possum Gully – but hates the realities and constraints that the life has placed upon her. She is the eldest child of a disappointed mother and a useless father, longs for books, music and to do great things – to have a brilliant career as a writer. Sybylla is beset with self-doubt – declaring herself ugly; she feels unloved and misunderstood by her family. Sybylla’s mother comes from a much more genteel family – her grandmother and aunt live on the large rural property of Caddagat. Sybylla is ecstatic when her grandmother whisks her away to live with her and her Aunt Helen at Caddagat – a place of books, music and gentility. Near neighbours and good friends are the Misses Beecham – and their adored nephew Harold Beecham, a rich, handsome and eminently eligible bachelor who has already caught the eye of many a single girl. Sybylla is impetuous, flying quickly into unthinking tempers; she enjoys nothing better than a sparring contest with an arrogant male. Much to her bemusement Sybylla captivates the handsome Harold Beecham. “Our greatest heart-treasure is a knowledge that there is in creation an individual to whom our existence is necessary - some one who is part of our life as we are part of theirs, some one in whose life we feel assured our death would leave a gap for a day or two.”As Sybylla and Harold become closer, Harold’s business runs into trouble, and a letter arrives from Sybylla’s mother informing her daughter that she must go as a governess to the M’Swat family at Barney’s Gap in payment of a debt. The M’Swat family is a rough chaotic family living in a slovenly dirty house. To Sybylla leaving Caddagat, her grannie and Aunt Helen is grief enough, but to have to live amongst such people is a horror to her. Typically it is only when leaving Barney’s Gap after a bout of illness that the wild and impetuous Sybylla begins to see some of the worth in these hardworking good natured people. Sybylla returns to her parent’s home, to her younger brother and sisters, and the relentless grind of life at Possum Gully – and her younger prettier sister is sent to Caddagat in her place. When news comes of Harold Beecham’s return to his old home, his fortunes revived again, Sybylla must decide between consenting to a conventional life or to hold fast to her dreams. It is astonishing to think that Miles Franklin was only sixteen when she wrote this highly autobiographical novel; it is quite an achievement, although it is perfectly possible to see the young girl behind the words. My Brilliant Career is shot through with the romantic impetuosity and wild extravagancies of a young girl - often irreverent, dramatic even self-pitying – Sybylla is like so many girls of her age both now and then, young girls don’t change so very much after all do they?

  • Amy (Lost in a Good Book)
    2019-03-17 09:27

    I experienced such a roller coast of emotions about this, at one moment I was cheering on Sybylla as she stood up against the men around her, and at other times I was rolling my eyes at her indecision and her constant back and forward and self-pity.When I began I thought it was wonderful; Sybylla was headstrong, she didn’t want to marry, she seemed like a feminist, she yelled at men who dared to touch her without permission when they thought they had the right. She knew what she wanted and didn’t let anyone dictate who she was or what she thought. However, as the book went on, it started to waver. You’d have moments where there’d be a spark and Sybylla would be fiery and independent again and you expected that her grand moment had arrived where she’d do something, but then it disappeared as soon as it had arrived. She goes on A LOT about her looks. A casual mention is all we’d need but it is filled with her lamenting her ugliness and while she says she can pity herself, she hates it when other people pity her. No one probably does but going on about herself as much as she does it looks like she wants someone to pity her.If it was written today I would be interested to see the response because reading it now she seems like such a complainer and it drags on with her indecision. She is the typical teenager trope, she is selfish and complains about having to do anything, and from the ages of 17 to 19 acts the same and thinks the world is out to get her and everything anyone does is to upset her life intentionally. She hasn’t got the sense to see what is right in front of her, she plays the ‘poor me’ card far too often for it to retain any sympathy in the reader, and the fact that she can’t see the best choice for her is infuriating. I’m surprised those around her don’t do more to stop her moaning. Of course it’s evident her parents aren’t the best, her mother can be unfair and harsh, but Sybylla doesn’t help herself either. The lack of clear conclusion in the novel makes it worse, Franklin makes the reader put up with all of Sybylla’s moping and carrying on but there’s no clear indication whether anything ever happened at the end. Surely a strong ending could have made up for the middle part where you wanted to yell at the girl and tell her to stop being such a whiner. Because I listened to the book as an audio I wasn’t sure how much longer it had to go and when it ended I actually said out loud, ‘is that it?’. I sat through all of that and wasn’t even granted a clear conclusion and instead given an unsatisfactory ending that is beyond tragic and just terrible.For a classic of Australian literature that is so idolised, I am trying to see what all the fuss is about, considering it didn’t seem to have much in it. Is the fact that she didn’t want to marry? Or that she was headstrong and independent? Is that what it’s revered for, because she is a unique character of her time that goes against the grain of what everyone thinks she should do? Because she doesn’t do it very well, and it’s all very well being independent and headstrong, but if you don’t do anything with that, what’s the point? And if you do that you end up having a pretty unsatisfactory life and I’m pretty sure that’s where Sybylla has ended up.A longer version of this review was published on my blog

  • Sharon Barrow Wilfong
    2019-03-15 11:48

    This was an interesting book. I read it on the recommendation of an Australian blogger I follow because I have not read much, if any, Australian literature.Therefore, I do not know whether Franklin's book reflects Australian culture or just or her own thoughts and ideas.Amazingly she wrote this while a teenager. The writing is wonderful. Her descriptions of farm life and the Australian countryside are fantastic! But then again, that might explain the immaturity of the protagonist.The story takes place in the 1890s and is about a young girl, Sybylla, who is sixteen and hates her life. Well, don't all sixteen year old girls.But Sybylla is slightly different. She hates living on a farm, hates the work, hates the people she's surrounded with. She's a "thinker" and they're not. Her mother is beautiful, but thinks the highest ideal for a woman is to marry and have children. This is anathema to Sybylla who has dreams of a brilliant career. I'm not sure in what, writing or music I suppose.Her family's farm goes under and Sybylla shakes her fist at her father and at God and all of life. Her mother talks of sending her out to work somewhere. But then her grandmother invites her to come live with her. She meets her aunt Helen who persuades her she is not as ugly as she believes herself to be.Her life is full of tea parties, dinners, and flirtatious young men. To most of them Sybylla is rude if not out right odious. Her Grandmother and Aunt Helen find her behavior shocking but her Uncle Jay Jay thinks its hilarious.There is one man, Harold Beecham, who stands up to her challenge, although why he bothers with her I don't know, because she acts like a perfect imp to him. And I'll stop right there so as not to give away anything.I really did not understand this novel. Sybylla is a nasty brat with no redeeming character as far as I can see. The story is supposed to have a wonderful feminist message. Well, if hating men and believing the only way a woman can be strong and independent is to never get married or have a family, and thinking you're smarter than everyone else, it does.But I wonder where that thinking comes from. I am strong and independent and the greatest joy I receive in my life is my family. I wouldn't give my husband or son up for anything. In my view, strong and independent by Sybylla's terms means to be self-absorbed and rude.I'd be interested in other people's opinions because it is possible I'm missing something.On a side note, Miles Franklin was so upset to realize that readers thought she was basing her story on her real life that she removed the book and did not allow its publication until after her death.Unfortunately for her, she got to expose her immature teenage years to the world while the rest of us get to blissfully forget about them.

  • Kelly
    2019-03-21 09:36

    (I have also published this review on my blog, Around the World in 2000 Books.)I was pleasantly surprised by My Brilliant Career. I shouldn't have been--Miles Franklin is one of Australia's most celebrated writer, and her reputation is based largely on this book. But the jacket description made me think it was going to be a light-hearted social satire and I was imagining something in the vein of early Evelyn Waugh, a style that I find only mildly entertaining. That and the fact that the book was published when Franklin was only twenty meant that I was unprepared for the great maturity and deadly seriousness of the book's subject matter. The plot is about Sybylla Melvin, a girl growing up in the outback with dreams of being a writer, whose family suffers a reversal of fortune (as seems, judging from the plots of several other books from my Australia list, to have been wildly common in Australian settler days), resulting in a life of drudgery and hardship which means Sybylla barely has the time or energy to dream about writing, let alone to do it. She has the opportunity to escape her poverty by marriage to a wealthy, handsome, and loving man who is incapable of seeing her as an equal--or, really, as an independent being at all. The crux of the story comes down to whether it is possible to have a truly loving relationship when there is fundamental social inequality between the parties, and whether it is more important to be independent or happy. It's truly prescient, and while we might hope that such issues are no longer relevant to heterosexual marriage, the truth is that our society still contains fundamental inequalities that have unfortunate repercussions for our personal relationships. I think women now (at least in industrialized countries) have more options--most of us don't have to choose between a life of poverty and freedom or a life of captive luxury--but we are still circumscribed by our expectations of gender roles. Breaking out of these predefined roles can be difficult and painful, and Franklin gives beautiful voice to this struggle.

  • Karen Beath
    2019-03-01 14:36

    This Australian classic follows the story of Sybella Melvyn, an independent, headstrong teenage girl living in rural NSW. Her family are relatively poor and Sybella works relentlessly hard every day. She longs for a better life with music and culture and she gets it when she is sent to live with her grandmother in more comfortable surroundings. Here she meets her admirer Harold Beecham and she is forced to decide between a comfortable life of marriage and her independence.I really enjoyed this book however it wasn’t entirely what I expected. I thought Sybella would be forced to choose between her career and marriage and she was, to an extent. However, it was clear from the start that she wasn’t madly in love with Harold and so I think her struggle was in coming to terms with this as well as finding her identity. It is very much a coming-of-age story and I would recommend it to any teen.One of the things I most liked about this novel was the liveliness of it’s characters. There seems to be a trend in Australian novels to produce characters that are stoic and a little depressed. On the contrary Sybella and many of the characters were colourful, passionate and humorous. I found them easier to relate to than some of the characters in contemporary Australian novels.One of the things I disliked about the novel was Sybella’s pre-occupation with her appearance. She insists that no one will love her because she is not attractive. I understand that this is a reflection on life for women at that time however it get very, very repetitive. I would have also liked to have known what happens to Sybella but I guess I’ll have to read the sequel, My career goes bung for that.Overall, I think this is an excellent depiction of late 19th century rural Australian life, particularly for women and I’m glad I read it.

  • Sylvester
    2019-02-27 12:29

    She fooled me. I thought for the longest time that I was reading a true story. There were things that rang so true, I think they WERE real. Franklin must have been well acquainted with the feelings of frustration and constraint and hopelessness at being so far removed from any opportunity to use her gifts and pursue her interests. The suffocation she describes is too vivid to be fictional. The bitterness is exactly that of a young person - I recognized it well. I am amazed that she wrote so truly at so young an age, and yet, that's when the feelings would have been the most immediate.Yeah, I liked this book. Love all the descriptions of Australian outback life. The heat, the drought, it's all palpable. Sibella has intelligence and spirit and passion, and the question of whether the setting and circumstances will break her or wear her down (as it has her parents, and so many others)is not answered. I like that, too. It makes her more alive to me. I get the feeling that her story is not over yet, just like mine isn't either.(I vaguely remember seeing the movie of this back in the 80's - not good. In my mind, this book is not a love story. Turning it into one is a sorry reduction, in my opinion.)