My Brilliant Career
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My Brilliant Career

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  2,237 ratings  ·  172 reviews
"My Brilliant Career" is the story of Sybylla, a headstrong young girl growing up in early 20th century Australia. Sybylla rejects the opportunity to marry a wealthy young man in order to maintain her independence. As a consequence she must take a job as a governess to a local family to which her father is indebted. "My Brilliant Career" is an early romantic novel by this...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published August 3rd 2006 by Waking Lion Press (first published 1901)
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Brenda
3.5s

Sybylla 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...more
Eve
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.
Mel
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...more
Joanne
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, bot...more
Jillian
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 cert...more
JC
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 but...you 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 wonderfu...more
Jane
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...more
Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angela Alcorn
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 wh...more
Kelly
Jan 27, 2011 Kelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone, but might be particularly suitable for women (young and old)
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 s...more
1.1
Jane Eyre but in Australia but she has even more deeply-rooted insecurities and acts out a lot. Plenty of angst, none of it particularly compelling. If nothing else the heroine was sympathetic at the start but then I guess Franklin wanted to show how defeatism and negativism get annoying over time. They do, but the book has enough other charms - it's probably great reading for individualist teenaged girls who think the Bronte sisters are too mainstream and who read Twilight just to smirk at it.

T...more
Sylvester
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 trul...more
Ali
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 t...more
Stephanie
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), bu...more
Mrsgaskell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Pauline
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...more
Lucy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Buffy Greentree
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
blindmouse
Fictionalised autobiographical turn-of-last-century Australian bush classic. Sybilla spends most of her youth in the soul-sapping drudgery of dairying in a drought-stricken country. Her soul cries out for two unreachable worlds: the wild bush country of the remote ranch of her childhood, and the sophisticated world of arts, culture, literature and conversation belonging to distant cities such as Sydney. She knows, though, that be she ever so brilliant, the career she longs for will never be hers...more
Karen Beath
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 b...more
Nina
So, I had heard of this book randomly but I really simply just plucked it off the shelf because it seemed interesting. I really did like the setting of the Australian Bush, and that as well as the point of view of a woman back then.

Basically, Sybylla Melvyn is the main protagonist,and is headstrong, tomboyish and imaginative. SHe is growing up in rural Australia in the 1890s/ Bad droughts and business cause her family to go into ruins, and her father takes to the bottle. She is sent to her gran...more
Lúcia Collischonn
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.
Any Length
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Browning
I found this story sad overall. I loved, and could definitely identify with, the character of Sybylla, which made it even more tragic to see how she caused her own downfall in the end. Definitely far better than the film, a lot more depth.
Lynne Leonhardt
I reviewed My Brilliant Career as part of a "Triple Choice Tuesday" on Kim Forrester's blog. http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmat...
Emma
I enjoyed it but was perhaps expecting more considering it is regarded as one of the greatest Australian novels.
Jennifer Mills
I last read this as a teenager. Most of what annoyed me then I now find charming.
Ausrine
The anti-romance!
Kimbofo
Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin (1879-1954) was an Australian feminist and writer. If her name sounds familiar it's because she bequeathed her estate to set up the prestigious Miles Franklin Literary Award, which is given to a novel of "the highest literary merit and presents Australian life in any of its phases" every year.

Her novel, My Brilliant Career, first published in 1901, is widely regarded as a fully fledged Australian classic.

The book tells the story of a headstrong teenage girl, Syb...more
Chloe
I loved the pacing and tone of the writing - and I became very attached to the narrator/protagonist. She made me laugh, cry, sigh and reflect on my perceptions of womanhood. Sybylla is perfectly imperfect.
I can understand why readers would become frustrated with Sybylla and her advancing/fleeing/toying/yearning/hating/admiring of Harold Beecham. I personally found this frustrating myself (thus the 4 stars). However, I understand why it has to be so.
My Brilliant Career is essentially about two th...more
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Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin was born in 1879 in rural Australia. My Brilliant Career, her first novel, was published to much excitement and acclaim. She moved to Sydney where she became involved in feminist and literary circles and then onto the USA in 1907.

She was committed to the development of a uniquely Australian form of literature, and she actively pursued this goal by supporting write...more
More about Miles Franklin...
My Brilliant Career / My Career Goes Bung Childhood at Brindabella My Career Goes Bung - Purporting to be the Autobiography Of Sybylla Penelope Melvyn The End of My Career All That Swagger

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“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.” 8 likes
“I don't believe there is a God", I said fiercely, "and if there is, He's not the merciful being He's always depicted, or He wouldn't be always torturing me for His own amusement.” 4 likes
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