THE END OF MY CAREER by Miles Franklin


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Written in 1902 when the Australian author was 22, this sequel to the recently (delightfully) filmed My Brilliant Career wasn't published in Australia and England till 1946; apparently its tub-thumping feminism was too loud for the times--not to mention the possibly libelous caricature of Sydney's Élite. But even 80 years later Franklin's alter ego Sybylla still offers noisy, funny, slapdash satire--as she glooms about the frustrations of life in the bush; about the irritating business of being told to be ""womanly"" (because of ""God's Will"" one is expected to ""settle down to act a tame-hen in a tin pot circle and to acknowledge men as superior. . . that revolted me""); about her adored, penniless Pa's lack of business sense and his (unpaid) work for justice. So, in spite of the admonitions of Ma (""unique and perfect""), Sybylla cries ""bung!"" to God's Will: ""Scorning tame-hen accomplishments. . . I returned to the thought of general greatness."" She mulls over greatness in books of autobiography (how little the great really are); she writes her own mock biography, filling in with portraits of real people; and sent to ""AUSTRALIA'S GREATEST AUTHOR"" (Franklin is fond of damning capitals), the book is published and a terrifying notoriety results. There are proposals, all dreadful, including one from an attractive bearded squatter who's sure she'll settle down once she gives birth. Then there's a trip to Sydney (under the sponsorship of a nice untidy lady called the Old Campaigner), where Sybylla is lionized but ticks off one and all: bullying toffs, family-proud poseurs, sniping socialites, stuffy clericals, politicos, literary types. And finally there's glittering author Goring Hardy, whose kisses unsettle Sybylla but whose indulgent attitude about her ideals forces her to ponder sexual inequality in love. So it's back home again, with dour musings on marriage and celebrity--yet ""Beauty is abroad. . . the voices of the great world call me."" With the wiry esprit and endearingly nutty flamboyance of a Jean Brodie: a slangy, refreshing change from most revivals of period feminism, offering smiles along with the adrenalin--and, though dated in much of its topical material, sure to engage some diversion-seekers as well as the built-in ideological audience.

Pub Date: Sept. 2nd, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's