My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

I have always enjoyed those books that have won the Miles Franklin Award, and yet I realised that I had never read anything by Miles Franklin (Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin). Since my recent literary mission has been to read more Australian novels, I thought it was important to read Franklin's first novel.

The novel was written in 1901 and it based on the life of Sybylla Melvin, a young girl born into outback Australia, living a typical life for someone of her social position. Things go downhill for her family when her father decides to move their family from their home to a sleepy little town called Possum Gully, where they descend into poverty, and her father turns to the bottle. Sybylla Melvin is not a typical young woman, she dreams and wants and needs things that are not within her reach. She is a source of ever increasing frustration to her mother, who eventually sends her to live with her grandmother and Aunt in Caddagat. The story gives us a glimpse of a young feminist, refusing to settle for a life that is designated to women of her time.

I enjoyed the book, I'm sure it was a very accurate refelction of life in the Australian outbook at the turn of the century. I'm not, however, sure that I entirely understood Sybylla. I understand that she is a feminist (even if that concept didn't exist back there), and I understand that she is struggling to find her own way in a world that doesn't really make sense to her, but sometimes her behaviour puzzled me to a point that I just didn't understand her. Her attitude at times didn't make sense to me. Essentially, her character remains a mystery to me.

If anyone has read this book and has their own opinion of what makes Sybylla Melvin tick, please leave a comment so that I can try and figure out what it is about her that I couldn't quite work out. Despite my personal puzzlement over the main character, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good old fashioned Australian classic to read.


Star Rating

6 / 8


Really enjoyable and well written. I would recommend it.

The Sydney Book Fair

Well, I took Friday off work as a flex day and went to the Sydney Book Fair at Randwick Racecourse. The book fair was amazing. There were so many good books, I could barely control myself. Even Pablo bought a couple of books for himself.

I got some amazing titles:

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov, Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay, The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve, My Career Goes Bung by Miles Franklin, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, Drowning Ruth by Christina Schwarz, Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, American Rhapsody by Joe Eszterhas, The Sweet and Simple Kind by Yasmine Gooneratne, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories by Washington Irving, Chocolat by Joanne Harris, Contemporary Classics by Don Anderson (ed), The City of Beasts by Isabel Allende, Robbery Under Arms by Rolf Boldrewood, The Secret River by Kate Grenville, Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy, The Virgin BLue by Tracy Chevalier, The Vinterner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox, Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings, Surfacing by Margaret Atwood and The Cockatoos by Patrick White.

I am reading The Breaker at the moment, but should finish it in the next few days. If there is a book here that anyone has been thinking of reading, or would like to read, or isn't sure if they want to read it or not, leave a comment and I'll see if I can read it next and review it when I'm finished.

Thank goodness for book fairs!