My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

Published: 1901 (print)/1st April 2013 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
William Blackwood & Sons/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 319 pages/1 disc
Narrator: Megan E Rees
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction/Classic
★   ★  – 2 Stars

“I am given to something which a man never pardons in a woman. You will draw away as though I were a snake when you hear.” With this warning, Sybylla confesses to her rich and handsome suitor that she is given to writing stories and bound, therefore, on a brilliant career. In this ironically titled and exuberant novel by Miles Franklin, originally published in 1901, Sybylla tells the story of growing up passionate and rebellious in rural New South Wales, where the most that girls could hope for was to marry or to teach. Sybylla will do neither, but that doesn’t stop her from falling in love, and it doesn’t make the choices any easier.

It feels so strange to write this review when I am currently taking part in the Australian Women Writers Challenge that celebrates the female writers of Australia specifically with challenges named after Stella Miles Franklin, but, having just finished My Brilliant Career I have to say I am wholly unimpressed and I can’t help feeling slightly guilty about it.

I experienced such a roller coast of emotions about this, at one moment I was cheering on Sybylla as she stood up against the men around her, and at other times I was rolling my eyes at her indecision and her constant back and forward and self-pity.

When I began I thought it was wonderful; Sybylla was headstrong, she didn’t want to marry, she seemed like a feminist, she yelled at men who dared to touch her without permission when they thought they had the right. She knew what she wanted and didn’t let anyone dictate who she was or what she thought.  However, as the book went on, it started to waver. You’d have moments where there’d be a spark and Sybylla would be fiery and independent again and you expected that her grand moment had arrived where she’d do something, but then it disappeared as soon as it had arrived. She goes on A LOT about her looks. A casual mention is all we’d need but it is filled with her lamenting her ugliness and while she says she can pity herself, she hates it when other people pity her. No one probably does but going on about herself as much as she does it looks like she wants someone to pity her.

If it was written today I would be interested to see the response because reading it now she seems like such a complainer and it drags on with her indecision. She is the typical teenager trope, she is selfish and complains about having to do anything, and from the ages of 17 to 19 acts the same and thinks the world is out to get her and everything anyone does is to upset her life intentionally. She hasn’t got the sense to see what is right in front of her, she plays the ‘poor me’ card far too often for it to retain any sympathy in the reader, and the fact that she can’t see the best choice for her is infuriating. I’m surprised those around her don’t do more to stop her moaning. Of course it’s evident her parents aren’t the best, her mother can be unfair and harsh, but Sybylla doesn’t help herself either.

I did enjoy all the other characters though, Harold Beechum was enjoyable, he is nice and a little odd but likable. He puts up with Sybylla’s nonsense much longer than I certainly would have. I’m surprised he didn’t walk away from her given all the trouble she caused him with her indecision and changing her mind constantly about what she wanted.

The lack of clear conclusion in the novel makes it worse, Franklin makes the reader put up with all of Sybylla’s moping and carrying on but there’s no clear indication whether anything ever happened at the end. Surely a strong ending could have made up for the middle part where you wanted to yell at the girl and tell her to stop being such a whiner. Because I listened to the book as an audio I wasn’t sure how much longer it had to go and when it ended I actually said out loud, ‘is that it?’. I sat through all of that and wasn’t even granted a clear conclusion and instead given an unsatisfactory ending that is beyond tragic and just terrible.

For a classic of Australian literature that is so idolised, I am trying to see what all the fuss is about, considering it didn’t seem to have much in it. Is the fact that she didn’t want to marry? Or that she was headstrong and independent? Is that what it’s revered for, because she is a unique character of her time that goes against the grain of what everyone thinks she should do? Because she doesn’t do it very well, and it’s all very well being independent and headstrong, but if you don’t do anything with that, what’s the point? And if you do that you end up having a pretty unsatisfactory life and I’m pretty sure that’s where Sybylla has ended up.

You can purchase My Brilliant Career via the following

Physical

Amazon 

Dymocks | Booktopia

Bookworld | Book Depository

Audio

Booktopia

Bookworld | Book Depository


Book Bingo Book
AWW16

 

AWW 2016 Final Update

AWW16Let’s take a moment to thank Past Amy for actually kind of keeping on top of this before her world crumbled and the big bad men stole her internet, her free time, and made her work all the time.

With that done, I am rather proud of myself for participating in this finally. I loved it. I made an effort to read more Aussie women books this year even without this challenge, and through chance and circumstance I discovered some great books by Aussies this year so it’s great this challenge was here to share them with you all. While I haven’t been able to review as many as I planned due to having no internet in the house for two months, and having a lot of personal and work commitments, I have read more. I will be getting reviews up for them though eventually I just have run out of time. I have included a complete list of all books read below, review links included and I am certainly looking forward to doing this again next year, with total success!

AWW BOOKS Sep-Dec

Black by Fleur Ferris – Review

Mad Men, Bad Girls, and the Guerilla Knitters Institute by Maggie Groff

 The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna

Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub

Breathing Underwater by Sophie Hardcastle

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2016 Total

Read: 28/25

Reviewed: 11/15

The Princess Companion by Melanie Cellier – Reviewed

Dead, Actually by Kaz Delaney – Reviewed

Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney – Reviewed

The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney – Reviewed

Yellow by Megan Jacobson – Reviewed

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub – Reviewed

Frankie by Shivaunn Plozza – Reviewed

Risk by Fleur Ferris – Reviewed

Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle – Reviewed

Wish List by Belinda Williams – Reviewed

Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

The High Places by Fiona MacFarlane

The Stockmen by Rachael Treasure

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

The Farmer’s Wife by Rachael Treasure – Reviewed

Jillaroo by Rachael Treasure

The Boundless Sublime by Lilli Wilkinson

The Girl and the Ghost Grey Mare by Rachael Treasure

Elliane by Judy Nunn

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

The Rouseabout by Rachael Treasure

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

The Princess Fugitive by Melanie Cellier

Black by Fleur Ferris – Reviewed

Mad Men, Bad Girls, and the Guerilla Knitters Institute by Maggie Groff

 The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna

Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub

Breathing Underwater by Sophie Hardcastle

 

AWW 2016 Update

AWW 2016 Update 

AWW16My updates are few and far between this year, especially in the later half because of work and personal reasons but I’m slowly continuing my reading and my AWW challenge. With a few months to cover it looks like I have done quite well, reading a total of 11 books, upgrading my score to 23/20. I thought I may reach this mark, but with my blogging falling on the wayside (as expected looking at previous years) I was worried about making my target. Luckily those four months were rather productive and I can say I’ve read them at least. The next step is reviewing them.

AWW BOOKS May-Sep

The Stockmen by Rachael Treasure

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

The Farmer’s Wife by Rachael Treasure

Jillaroo by Rachael Treasure

The Boundless Sublime by Lilli Wilkinson

The Girl and the Ghost Grey Mare by Rachael Treasure

Elliane by Judy Nunn

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

The Rouseabout by Rachael Treasure

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

The Princess Fugitive by Melanie Cellier

AWW2016 TOTAL

Having reached the 20 read goal I’m going to bump it up to 25. A small increase but with a lot to review I’m limiting my increment again to allow a catch up. That and I’m not reading much at the moment so I’m safe for a while.

Read: 23/25

Reviewed: 10/15

Wish List (#4) by Belinda Williams

Published: 26th May 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Momentum
Pages: 280
Format: ebook via the publisher and NetGalley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Could the wrong man on paper be the perfect man in real life?

Cate Harmon likes lists. While this may serve her well as a financial planner, her girlfriends think that creating a checklist for her ideal man is going a step too far. But she has one, and she’s sticking to it.

Cate has always dreamed of starting a family and settling down and yet she’s the only one of her close-knit friendship group still unattached. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to lower her standards.

Enter Dave, a reformed bad boy with gorgeous hair and eyes the wrong colour. Dave doesn’t tick any of the boxes on Cate’s list. It’s unthinkable that she would develop feelings for him, and yet … Cate finds herself being drawn to Dave in a way she’s never felt before.

Will Cate confront the reasons behind her list? Or will she risk losing a man who could be better than any list she could ever dream up?

I legit had a massive smile on my while reading this book, even in the rocky parts. I think I said something corny when I started reading it saying it was like coming back home but it was true; I love these women so much and I love Williams’ stories about their lives and as soon as I started reading Cate’s story I was back in their world with Maddy and Scarlett and Christa. It was like I hadn’t left.

It’s not all big smiles and excitement though, Williams did bring a few tears to the surface in some part, but just for a moment. I’m not saying the book is 90% happiness and frivolity, but it was just so wonderful to read that every little thing made me happy, the conflict, drama, Cate’s frustration and denial, the SURPRISES! It was the perfect package and balance.

I’ve realised through this series that there’s a little bit of me in each of these women, possibly all the wrong bits to identify with but all the same there’s something in each of them I adore. I adore because despite them feeling insecure, having a duty of care, a desire to do the right thing, and having hidden secrets, they still get up and have a great life with beautiful friends. They don’t let themselves or their past stop them (well, eventually anyway).

Wish List is the final in the City Love series and after seeing Christa’s, Maddy’s, and Scarlett’s stories we finally get to explore Cate’s. Williams has been great at dropping snippets of information through all her books about each woman, and with Scarlett’s story Cate was given a closer look, just enough to tease you and build anticipation. Justified too because the Cate we discover is totally unexpected from the Cate we’ve gotten to know. Delving into her mind and life is wonderful and finding out more about her secretive past and seeing that she isn’t always the cautious and structured girl she seems to be is fantastic, like all the girls we see her grow.

Williams’ starts off the story slowly, almost as you’d expect, meeting a guy who isn’t the guy you expect to fall for, but even if you think you know what may happen, that it will follow some clear set of events, it won’t. Williams brings a whole new story to the table and brings complexity and depth and drama that doesn’t feel over the top or too messy, it feels real and justified and intense.

That isn’t even the biggest twist as Williams has five or six more up her sleeve that continually surprise you when you least expect it. She lulls you into feeling safe before pouncing and makes you remember all the little details you’d forgotten about because you were caught up and recovering from the last surprise. It’s easy to think this story is one big issue but it’s a bigger, deeper, more complicated situation that twists and turns and shocks and delights you. By the end you can’t believe you ever thought it was just going to be that simple. It’s not even close to being that simple.

For me this is the best and most wonderful ending to a series and a book I’ve read. Williams has always treated these women well and given them stories that suit them and that they deserve, this is no exception, and being the final book it also manages to be a farewell and big finale for the four of them. The continual surprises and little bits of joy and intensity are an emotional ride but I wouldn’t change a thing. As I read my heart was pounding, I had knots in my stomach, a smile on my face, continually holding in gasps and squeals as my eyes fled across the page trying to read faster and possibly physically immerse myself in the story.

One thing I admire about William’s writing is she makes wonderful romantic stories that are heart-warming, heartbreaking, and satisfying without making them overly sweet and mushy, or too innocent or risqué either. Getting inside the heads of these women helps balance that out because you see their reservations, their developing feelings and their reasoning behind what they do. You also fall in love with new characters and reacquaint yourself with the old ones. Dave is my favourite of all the boys in this series, even for his faults. With Cate’s narration we can see how he causes her so must frustration and angst, how his few words annoy her and confuse her. But through Dave’s actions we see a bit more of Cate as well, they balance each other out.

I could go on forever and talk about every little thing in this book but I won’t, I’ve gone on enough already, but I will say that there’s 101 things to adore in this story, it’s got everything, love, drama, friendship, excitement, the works. William’s has done a truly marvellous job and had wrapped up the City Love series spectacularly.

You can pre-order Wish List via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Amazon UK | Barnes and Noble

Google Play | iBooks Store

Kobo

AWW16

AWW 2016 Update

AWW16My first update covered three months, this time I’ve got two months to deal with and magically I have a few books to look at. I realised yesterday that I actually had read a few Aussie ladies and that another update was needed. I thought when I was doing this I’d post a reminder without being able to add anything new so I’m quite pleased. In future I am aiming for a monthly recap which means I’d best get my reading into gear and have something to update about. But for now I have a wonderful bunch of books to add to my list.

There is still plenty of time if you wish to join the challenge, you can sign up at any time during the year until the end of November. Visit the AWW website for more information.

 

AWW BOOKS Mar-Apr

The Reluctant Jillaroo by Kaz Delaney – Reviewed

Yellow by Megan Jacobson – Reviewed

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub – Reviewed

Frankie by Shivaunn Plozza – Reviewed

Risk by Fleur Ferris – Reviewed

Pieces of Sky by Trinity Doyle – Reviewed

Wish List by Belinda Williams – Reviewed

Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

The High Places by Fiona MacFarlane

 

AWW2016 TOTAL

I’ve had to update my goal limit because I’m doing better than I thought I was going to. I’m bumping it up to read 20, review 16. Small increments for safety for now.

Read: 12/20

Reviewed: 10/16

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