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My Brilliant Career

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,904 ratings  ·  461 reviews
First published in 1901, this classic Australian novel was written by Miles Franklin at age sixteen. Still very relevant today, it tells the story of the sensitive and independent Sybylla who, in her rags to riches to rags career, flies in the face of convention to remain an independent woman.
Mass Market Paperback, 232 pages
Published 1979 by Angus & Robertson Publishers (first published 1901)
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Average rating 3.83  · 
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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
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics

Sybylla is the epitome of an Aussie Battler!

What started as an idyllic if tough childhood, changed when her father decided to chase dreams beyond his abilities. When the family's circumstances change to beyond desperate, Sybylla is sent to live with her grandmother and an aunt, before her mother decides (view spoiler)

But there is a solution.

I loved this story and the only reason this wasn't a 5★ read is th
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
✨    jay   ✨
“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
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, own, favorites
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. ...more

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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-o, read-2013, 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
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
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
3and a half stars. I don’t remember reading this at school, if I did it didn’t leave an impression. Sybylla is both a wonderful and an awful character, she’s an overwrought, self obsessed teenager one minute and almost wise the next. I enjoyed reading this book though not for her but for the slice of Australian life in the 1890s that she describes . The hard life of all those on the land whether they be wealthy or poor is shown so well. I’m quite impressed that Miles Franklin didn’t go for the o ...more
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Karen ⊰✿
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club2
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
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first classic by this iconic Australian author and what a joy it was. It is considered a semi-autobiographical work and if so, I wish I could have met Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin. The story is about Sybylla, a young woman who is feisty and headstrong. She is the oldest child in a family who was once refined with a bit of money but is now poor and fighting utter destitution. Most of the book covers Sybylla's late teenage years during the late 1890s. She is sent to live with her grandmoth ...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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sharon Barrow Wilfong
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Lucia Abreu
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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-
I hadn't read this one since I was at school and while I remembered it fondly I'd forgotten about the antiquated complicated language of the wealthy (or aspiringly wealthy) Australian squatters.
I still have a soft spot for 17 year old Sybilla and all her trials and tribulations of being a young lady of no means in rural Australia at the time.
It was great to listen to it on this audiobook narrated by Megan E Rees and follow along with my 1965 copy that I bought for $3 earlier this year at the bo
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! ...more
Jazzy Lemon
An honest recollection of a young woman growing up in the Australian bush.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

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