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The Getting of Wisdom

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  663 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Henry Handel Richardson's The Getting of Wisdom is the coming-of-age story of a spontaneous heroine who finds herself ensconced in the rigidity of a turn-of-the-century boarding school. The clever and highly imaginative Laura has difficulty fitting in with her wealthy classmates and begins to compromise her ideals in her search for popularity and acceptance.
Paperback, Popular Penguins, 264 pages
Published June 29th 2009 by Penguin Group (Australia) (first published 1910)
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Laura is sent to a private girls' school in Melbourne for her education. Her mother is adamant that this will happen even though they struggle financially. She believes it is the best way:

"To a State school, I've always said it, my children shall never go - not if I have to beg the money to send them elsewhere."

The Getting of Wisdom was published in 1910 and we still have this kind of conversation about private versus public education today.

Laura is thrown in with the lions immediately, her Cous
I have a hard time believing this was written by a man. Come on! H.H. Richardson has to be a pseudonym! Really amazing insight into a young girl's struggles to fit in - something I could relate to so closely in parts...I was very impressed with the author's grasp of the cruelty in female relationships. For anyone who grew up too poor to be fashionable, or who had parents too loud, or was embarrassingly back-country for the school sophisticates - this book will seem like it's about you. I was ama ...more
Hilarious and subversive. Laura's character and morals are corrupted as she struggles (and fails) to become what society expects from her.

I love HG Wells' description of Laura as 'an adorable little beast'. Though she is more a series of young girls, each focussing on a particular girlish folly (falling insanely in love with your roomate, lying to make people like you, being ashamed of your family...), than a real person, Laura's character is charming and horribly likeable.

The Getting of Wisdo
I have had this book on my shelves for years.I am an inveterate purchaser of books and to my shame it can take me a long time to get around to doing the required reading.In this case the effort was not misplaced.
I always find it amazing that despite the sophistications of the modern age we still have the same underlying emotions as generations before us.
The subject of this book is a young woman: an awkward, insecure, restless and 'knowing' child who learns that self-realisation depends on rebellion and escape, but that the latter will first demand at least the semblance of conformity. In telling lies, Laura learns both the astonishing allure of fiction and the social costs of stepping beyond the bounds of propriety, gender, class, and family ties.

The novel is only in part a fictionalised account of Richardson's school years at the Presbyt
I don’t know a great deal about Ethel Richardson – who adopted a male pseudonym when she wrote – but I do know that this story, the story of an Australian girl sent to boarding school, is said to be autobiographical, and, if that is the case, I suspect that I would like her very much.

The book dates from 1910, but the story that it tells could easily have happened years earlier or years later.

I loved twelve- year old Laura Rambotham. At home she was a benevolent queen, ruling over her younger sib
I want to compare this to Bilgewater by Jane Gardam because both are coming of age stories of young women in boarding schools. But it would be unfair to both authors and stories to do so. B had a protagonist confident in her intelligence, blooming in beauty unknown to her and pained by the cruelties of life in school when you're different, and she makes no attempt to conform. Conversely, Laura is not confident in anything and desperate to be liked. You already know she fails, and spectacularly t ...more
Laura Rittenhouse
This is a great coming of age book. Laura, our heroine, is sent off to boarding school in Melbourne in the early 1900s. Her family has little money and her peers all seem rich and glamorous. Laura finds herself struggling to fit in and weaves a web of lies to gain status. She's too smart and too ambitious to ever be perfectly comfortable either in or out of the cliques in her school.

As much as a coming of age story, this is a book about fitting in, our desire to belong and what lengths we shoul
Margaret Sharp
Despite its being published more than a hundred years ago, the central theme of this book: that of the effects of peer pressure: is still very relevant in today's society.
Essentially, this is a compelling volume about an intelligent, sensitive girl's initiation into a society populated by self-seeking, egotistic individuals.
Laura, a country girl, is sent to a boarding where (social) class consciousness is of paramount significance. Her own temperament and upbringing make her a target. Ultimately
I adore this story!

I first read it as a teenager and a lot of it went over my head, and I can understand how the writing style might not grab the attention of teens. However over the last 40 years I've returned to it many times and I often notice new things in the story - like how subtly comic it is for instance. Or the way the style of speech changes according to who is talking, and reflects the different characters. The speech used by the private schoolboy cousin of Tilly is really amusing fo
Picked up this book after seeing the authors portrait at the Portrait Gallery in Canberra. I am so glad that I did! Despite being written 100 years ago, the themes are not dissimilar to what teen girls experience today - excepting the more delightful vocabulary. This book was funny yet also quite brutal. I will definitely re-read this one.

Visit 'Time to Read' for the full review
Lucy Adlard
Never, ever, read this. Even though it is old, sure, that's great but it bored me to tears. I only kept reading because it was for school and I would get in trouble if i didn't finish it. It is pages and pages of descriptive language and boring past tales. Nothing exciting. Pretty much a boring recollection of a girls life in school. Don't put your self through it! Me and my friend actually nicknamed it the getting of boredom.... Well that's my opinion!
Perseus Q
I really enjoyed this one. I suspect it helps being an Australian, even more so a Victorian, and even more so a Victorian who has lived in Melbourne and the country because when she describes the house in Chiltern and the blue gum down the side, the streets of Prahran, the walk between South Yarra and Collins Street, and the sands of Portsea, I could see and smell it all, even though it was written and set at the turn of the last century.

It's a coming of age story, loaded with cliché. The (relat
Laura Tweedle Rambotham deserves to be recognised - alongside Vernon Gregory Little, Holden Caulfield, and even (arguably) A Clockwork Orange's Alex - as one of the most important voices of the brutal and difficult journey of young adulthood. Highly recommended and, again, would make a great selection for a paired text study.
Lizzie Friendship
written in 1910 and set in australia, this novel clearly demonstrates that 'teenage angst' is not just for the 21st century generation! unable to put it down, i read the book in a day. richardson's own life situation is clearly evident which means that her writing is from 'the heart'.
An enjoyable read, and a good way to learn about some parts of Australian society around the turn of the twentieth century, but without a lot of depth for a modern reader.
Robyn Goodwin
An incisive look at the ways people are socialised (particularly during adolescence) and the tension between conformity and nonconformity. Dripping with casual irony and poignant social commentary, I fear the true cleverness of this book will not be appreciated by many. Nevertheless, the story is intriguing and funny and delightful and awkward… so it’s worth reading even if the above doesn't appeal to you.
Recommend for: Adult females wanting to reflect on their own adolescent journey; People wan
Karen Beath
First published in 1910, The Getting of Wisdom is the coming-of-age story of Laura Rambotham, a 12-year-old country girl who is sent to an exclusive girls boarding school in Melbourne by her widowed mother, who scrimps and saves to afford to give her daughter a good education.

Laura is a willful and creative child who struggles to fit in amongst her peers. She so desperately wants to be accepted yet is often ridiculed and ignored by her classmates and teachers. She continues to try and so often f
Hazel Key
The ending may have been a bit lack-lustre, but this book was well worth reading for its study of what happens to the psyche of a girl entering puberty when thrust into the harsh, alien environment of a boarding school.

Wilful, creative, intelligent yet impulsive Laura, the eldest child who dominated and yet was admired by her siblings, suddenly finds herself younger, less experienced and, to her peers, severely lacking in many respects.

She gradually, through a series of painful experiences and i
I liked it but I didn't find it an easy read, I had to really concentrate on the language or I drifted off. All I can say is Melbourne schoolgirls haven't changed much in 100 years!
Well-written and sometimes almost painful to read. A sensitive portrayal of a young girl growing up in difficult times and placed in a difficult situation.
Nice, easy but absorbing read. Probably suited for a younger audience. Classic Bildungsroman tale set in not too distant Australian past
I only read this book for uni and I really didn't like it. The main character has no redeemable qualities and I found it demoralising to read from her perspective.
1 depressing star
Kate Rowe
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I did, which was really disappointing. I wanted Laura to be a strong, independent, likable character but mostly I found her quite annoying! I had hoped that The Getting of Wisdom would provide characters like Sybylla from My Brilliant Career, Norah from the Billabong series, Judy from Seven Little Australians, or even Jo March from Little Women, or Anne from Anne of Green Gables. Unfortunately The Getting of Wisdom was not the Australian Classic I had h ...more
Silly me.

I was going by the title.

Prepared to look at another view of wisdom, little did I expect to find chick-lit.

There's no question wisdom grows through the years, and from experience. Perhaps one day I'll be in a place where I can wade through the tribulations of a girl's first encounters with the world of catty.

For now I have to pass on it. I guess I'm in good company. I don't see any reviews from men in the Goodreads submissions.
Heather Browning
A really sweet and simple story, this book really explores how it feels to be growing up and trying to fit in. Laura's many mistakes and embarrassments can be felt by anyone who has ever tried that little bit too hard to fit in. The age of the book just shows that in some parts of life, nothing really changes over time.
Yvette Adams
I'm really surprised so many people have given this book such a good review and rating. I didn't like it at all! None of the characters were at all likeable. The main character didn't become any more likeable as the book ended. Did she ever gain any wisdom? If she did, I couldn't tell!

I don't recommend this at all.
Annabel Theaker
Not much happens in this to make it a gripping read but it is a well written coming of age novel exploring an adolescent young girls growing up at boarding school. It is relatable even though it was written over a 100 years ago - a sign of a good author.
A well written coming-of-age story but none too valuable at my age. An interesting Australian novel though.
Margot McGovern
If I'd read this when I was much younger, say 10-12, I think I would have really enjoyed it. Reading it as an adult though, I found it a bit tedious and it reminded me of being at school and why I was so glad to finish school.
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Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson's use of a pen-name, adopted for mixed motives, probably militated against recognition especially when feminist literary history began. Maurice Guest was highly praised in Germany when it first appeared in translation in 1912, but received a bad press in England, though it influenced other novelists. The publishers bowdlerized the language for the second imprint. ...more
More about Henry Handel Richardson...
Fortunes of Richard Mahony Australia Felix: The fortunes of Richard Mahony Maurice Guest Ultima Thule Myself When Young

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