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My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

My Brilliant Career (1901)

by Miles Franklin

Other authors: Henry Lawson (Preface)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
901259,793 (3.76)144
  1. 00
    Consequences by E. M. Delafield (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Although the two books have a very different setting and style, they are both semi-autobiographical novels about a young woman struggling to cope with the restrictions placed on her by the society of the time. As a result, neither are easy or happy reads but both are compelling and very interesting.… (more)
  2. 00
    Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (lucyknows)
    lucyknows: My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin may be paired with Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy or even Lilian's Story by Kate Grenville. All three novels have strong central female characters that all struggle with the expression of freedom.

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» See also 144 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
(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. ( )
  Dunaganagain | Jun 26, 2017 |
My Brilliant Career is sort of what would happen if Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and the Australian outback and first-wave feminism had a baby.

Miles Franklin, though. Stella Marie Sarah Miles Franklin. She struggled for so long to get this book published - it was a success of sorts in the end, but she was so sick of it, she took it off the market and wanted it published again only after she died.

I wasn't ready to warm to this book - it's quite thick, and I had to read it for a course. But I loved it. It grew on me. Sybylla is a headstrong heroine who can be a little bit irritating, but after a while, I had only absolute affection towards her.

This book, written when Franklin was only a teenager, is a beautiful masterpiece. It's full of early feminist thought and ideas, and although I don't like all the parts of the book, together, as a whole, I love it.

I love the descriptions of the landscape, the stark sunrises, the ring-barked trees.

This book, in all its humble existence, is one of the unsung heroes of early Australian literature and feminism. I'll continue to be its champion till the day I die.

Doesn't matter if you don't love this book, Stella Marie Miles Franklin, because I do. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
I don't understand this cover at all. The cover of my copy is apparently a movie still, with the girl looking pensive. And I don't know how to review this story. It did get easier to read as the girl matured, but I still don't agree with her final decision re marriage. It sure was interesting learning about old Australia, though. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I had known about this book as an Australian classic for many years, and Miles Franklin is namesake of a literature prize, but have only know got around to reading it. I was not disappointed. It is the story of a teenaged girl growing up in rural Australia, and her changing fortunes. I think the mastery is in the descriptions, and the ability of the book to really conjure up a picture in the reader's mind of the places and situations. The main character is herself very entertaining and real as a person, and wrestles with her own frustration at her own nature (although at such a young age, manages to do a pretty good job of accepting this). Excellent! ( )
  kmstock | Apr 6, 2014 |
Not a book for romantics - nothing is romanticised, not the past, rural life, love or marriage. The protagonist is prickly and contrary and at times you want to slap her, but she sticks to her principles and I really liked her. ( )
  dylkit | Feb 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Miles Franklinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lawson, HenryPrefacesecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aiken, JoanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Callil, CarmenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin was born on October 14 1879.

New introduction, by Carmen Callil, 1980.
A few months before I left Australia I got a letter from the bush signed "Miles Franklin", saying that the writer had written a novel, but knew nothing of editors and publishers, and asking me to read and advise.

Preface, by Henry Lawson, 1901.
Possum Gully, near Goulburn,
N.S. Wales, Australia, 1st March, 1899

Just a few lines to tell you that this story is all about myself - for no other purpose do I write it.

My dear fellow Australians, Just a few lines to tell you that this story is all about myself - for no other purpose do I write it.

Chapter one.
A woman is but the helpless tool of man - a creature of circumstances.
Weariness! Weariness!
It is worth being poor once or twice in a lifetime just to experience the blessing and heartrestfulness of a little genuine reality in the way of love and friendship.
Grils! Girls! Those of you who have hearts, and therefore a wish for happiness, homes, and husbands by and by, never develop a reputation of being clever. It will put you out of the matrimonial running a effectually as though it had been circulated that you had leprosy.
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References to this work on external resources.

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Book description
From the book cover:
"First published in 1901, this Australian classic recounts the live of 16-year-old Sybylla Melvyn. Trapped on her parents' outback farm, she simultaneously loves bush life and hates the physical burdens it imposes. For Sybylla longs for a more refined, aesthetic lifestyle - to read, to think, to sing - but most of all to do great things. Suddenly her life is transformed. Whisked away to live on her grandmother's gracious property, she falls under the eye of the rich and handsome Harry Beecham and soon she finds herself choosing between everything a conventional life offers and her own plans for a 'brilliant career'."

 This book is in public domain in the USA and the e-book is available free online. he same book there.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143105051, Paperback)

The fierce, irreverent novel of aspiration and rebellion that is both a cornerstone of Australian literature and a feminist classic

Miles Franklin began the candid, passionate, and contrary My Brilliant Career when she was only sixteen, intending it to be the Australian answer to Jane Eyre. But the book she produced-a thinly veiled autobiographical novel about a young girl hungering for life and love in the outback-so scandalized her country upon its appearance in 1901 that she insisted it not be published again until ten years after her death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:51 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Aust'n. Classic fiction. Miles Franklin began the candid, passionate, and contrary My Brilliant Career when she was only sixteen, intending it to be the Australian answer to Jane Eyre. But the book she produced-a thinly veiled autobiographical novel about a young girl hungering for life and love in the outback-so scandalized her country upon its appearance in 1901 that she insisted it not be published again until ten years after her death.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0143105051, 1921922192

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