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My Brilliant Career

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,217 ratings  ·  366 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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Average rating 3.83  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,217 ratings  ·  366 reviews

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Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 li ...more
✨    jamieson   ✨
“life itself is anything beyond a heartless little chimera- it is as real in its weariness and bitter heartache”

I read this book for university and at first, I wasn't that into it but it grew on me a lot as it went on, and I particularly enjoyed the middle section. This is Jane Eyre meets Pride and Prejudice in the Australian bush. Except, Miles Franklin is kind of critical of Jane Eyre and wants to subvert your expectations of romance and the romance genre.

Lots of people seem not to like Sy
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
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
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013, n-o, aww-2013
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
Karen ⊰✿
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
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 futur
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
Susan's Reviews
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The author based this story of a young girl struggling to become a writer despite her lowly circumstances. The movie starring Judy Davis inspired me to read this novel. Both are excellent.
Angela Randall
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
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
Nov 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics
I would not have read this book except that others on here talked about it (and it was about half as long as Oscar and Lucinda that I had originally chosen!). And I am glad that I did! It was a good one to end the year with.
First published in 1901, it is the story of a young girl trying to find herself, deciding between marriage (a "good marriage") and her own independence. It reads kind of like a diary and doesn't have a lot of plot. But it is written very well, and Sybylla's encounters really
Lúcia Collischonn
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, school
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 15, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition

Opening: I Remember, I Remember

"Boo, hoo! Ow, ow; Oh! oh! Me'll die. Boo, hoo. The pain, the pain! Boo, hoo!"

"Come, come, now. Daddy's little mate isn't going to turn Turk like that, is she? I'll put some fat out of the dinner-bag on it, and tie it up in my hanky. Don't cry any more now. Hush, you must not cry! You'll make old Dart buck if you kick up a row like that."

That is my first recollection of life. I was barely three. I can remember the majestic gum-
Feb 05, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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 wonderfu ...more
Jan 21, 2016 rated it liked it
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 i
Buffy Greentree
Jan 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
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).
Any Length
Aug 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helen King
Dec 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
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
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reminded of Louisa Mae Alcott while reading this book. The two authors, neither of whom ever married, are best known for one semi-autobiographical novel which eclipsed their other efforts. Both women were also early feminists and wrote some of their work under male pseudonyms. Also, in both My Brilliant Career as in Little Women, there is a romantic element that will probably frustrate many readers since it defies conventional expectations. It did frustrate me!

It’s hard to say, since I kne
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: virago, australia
I love it when I find the exact right copy. It was good, the struggle of a young woman to escape the poverty of a rural Australian upbringing, beginning of 19th century. I remember her having to take care of the babies and being sent out to take care of other people's babies as well! No wonder she wanted to escape - did it with her writing.
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy (Lost in a Good Book)
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’
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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
“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.” 17 likes
“I am afflicted with the power of thought, which is a heavy curse. The less a person thinks and inquires regarding the why and the wherefore and the justice of things, when dragging along through life, the happier it is for him, and doubly, trebly so, for her.” 12 likes
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