Review: Miles Franklin – My Brilliant Career

My Brilliant Career
Miles Franklin
Sybylla is going to have a brilliant career… in doing nothing. Out in the Australian Bush, and even in town, it’s obvious that Sybylla doesn’t belong. This is a prime example of early Australian literature, and it’s worth a read if you like that type of thing, or the poetry of the 1890s isn’t for you. Hit the jump for more…

For years I didn’t know that Miles Franklin was a woman. Upon now reading it, it’s obvious that it is! She says it’s not romantic, but in a way it is. Sybylla is lovable, in an irritating sort of way. The foreword by Henry Lawson is rather masculine, and I”m not sure it’s really in keeping with the book, but it does display the attitudes of men towards women’s writing at the time.

Before I started reading, I knew the ending because I had already read some references on the topic (hello essay topic of mateship). So I knew it was doomed from the start! I still persevered though, and in the end I was reading past my bed time because I wanted to see what the stupid Sybylla would do! There is a sequel to this book (‘My Career Goes Bung’), which I don’t think I’ll bother reading (although I am somewhat curious).
Australian fiction doesn’t do anything for me. Certainly not Australian fiction from the literary period of the 1890s. I’m sure there are better examples of Australian fiction, and I do enjoy some Australian fantasy, but novels of mateship and the hardships of the Bush don’t seem to do anything for me. UnAustralian of me, I know, I know. 
I can understand why I am set to study it, because it is a relatively good example of its kind. And it is extremely well known. This is rather reminicent of the writings of Jane Austin, which I also didn’t enjoy. However, if you enjoy fiction in the style of Austin, and don’t mind a bit of Australian slang, this is a good book to get right into it. The language isn’t particularly hard, as long as you understand the Australianisms.

I feel like I’ve given you a list of reasons not to read it, and very little on the good aspects of the book. For a first novel by an early Australian writer, it’s not that bad. The settings are well described, and you can understand the relationships of Sybylla with her family nicely. There is little action, but what there is is quite good. Sybylla seems to get into trouble over everything! And there is certainly no ‘Brilliant Career’ to speak of.

My copy was from the library, and the version of it had a surprising number of typos. Not unreadable, just that the editors seemed not to take any care. Or perhaps it was left over from the original manuscript – whatever, it was just a shame. That was reflected in the boring cover you see in the above image. The book is obviously riding on its reputation as a classic, not looking to pull readers on the basis of looks or story line alone.

You can purchase My Brilliant Careerfrom Amazon (affiliate link)
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