A Classic Year: 13.0 My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

bcareer_small.jpg My Brilliant Career
Miles Franklin

Miles Franklin's first novel is quite an amazing achievement. Written when she was only in her early 20s it is probably the most famous thing she wrote, and is rightly considered an Australian classic.

The book tells the story of Sybylla, a young Australian woman living in the 1890s, whose family falls on hard times when the father gets on the grog. Their circumstances gradually get worse, and Sybylla is "rescued" by well-to-do relatives who invite her to stay and where she grows from a teenage girl into a young woman. Of course, she catches the eye of the best male prospect in the area - rich, intelligent, and fairly down-to-earth - and the bulk of the book concerns her trying to decide if she will, or will not, accept his proposal of marriage. On the face of it, not the most original plot-line you'll come across, but certainly one that could benefit from an Australian setting.

The over-riding impression I got from this novel was of the sound of the author's voice. It's been a while since I read something written in the first person which was so strong and so indicative of the main character's personality. As a reader you are left in no doubt as to the identity of the narrator. It flags from time to time, usually when the fortunes of Sybylla take a downturn, but her fiesty, assertive, and self-confident nature generally shines through. If I had a choice I would have liked to have given Sybylla a good clip under the ear for the way she acts, and for the way she treats her suitor. But that aside, it's hard to dislike a novel which is just so full of life.


Full text of the novel.
Author Wikipedia page
Photo of the author.

The next four works in this Classic Year:
14. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay (1918)
15. Coonardoo by Katherine Susannah Prichard (1929)
16. 10 for 66 and All That by Arthur Mailey (1958)
17. Lucinda Brayford by Martin Boyd (1946)

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on May 21, 2008 9:51 PM.

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