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Top customer reviews
‘Weariness! Weariness! This was my life—my life—my career, my brilliant career! I was fifteen—fifteen!’
Sybylla is sent to stay with her grandmother and aunt, and finds life much more comfortable. She meets a wealthy young man, Harold Beecham, but refuses to take him seriously when he proposes marriage to her. Shortly afterwards, Sybylla is summoned home. Her father’s drinking has now increased her family’s indebtedness to the extent where Sybylla is required to serve as a governess to an almost illiterate family of neighbours.
‘A woman is but the helpless tool of man—a creature of circumstances.’
After becoming ill, Sybylla returns home. Harold Beecham, who has suffered his own ups and downs in fortune returns to ask her to marry him. But Sybylla refuses, and the novel ends with no hint of any brilliance in Sybylla’s future.
I finished this novel resolving to read the rest of Miles Franklin’s works (as well as those she wrote under the pseudonym of ‘Brent of Bin Bin’). This is one of very few novels I’ve read where marriage was not the preferred option for a female. When I first read it (in the 1970s), I took this for granted. Reading it again, I’m more aware of how unusual this was for a novel written in the late nineteenth century.
Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin (14/10/1879 – 19/9/1954) – Miles Franklin— was born in Talbingo, on the edge of the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales. ‘My Brilliant Career’ was her first book, first published in 1901 when she was aged 21. While the novel was successful when first published, Miles Franklin withdrew it from publication because she was upset that so many people considered the novel autobiographical. Was it autobiographical? I wonder. I first read the novel some 40 years ago, and recently reread it as part of my quest to read more books written by Australian Women Writers.
The descriptions of the Australian bush are beautiful and evocative without being sentimental.The views expressed concerning women's emancipation are well ahead of their time.
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