Book Review: Miles Franklin: A Short Biography by Jill Roe

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Title: Miles Franklin: A Short Biography
Author: Jill Roe
Publication Date: 23rd April 2018 from Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Synopsis: "The award-winning biography of Australia's most celebrated literary icon in a new, revised edition.

2018 marks ten years since Jill Roe's defining biography, Stella Miles Franklin: A Biography. To mark the occasion and bring the story of Miles Franklin to a new generation, HarperCollins will publish an abridged, accessible edition: Miles Franklin: A Short Biography.

Propelled to fame aged only twenty-one by her bestselling novel My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin wrote prolifically, publishing numerous fiction and non-fiction books and articles - often under pseudonyms - over the course of her life. Australian literature was her cause, but Miles Franklin was also - perhaps more importantly - a hugely influential first-wave feminist, unionist and progressive. She was a woman who changed lives, in America, Britain, war-torn Europe and Australia.

If her extraordinary achievements were not enough, her endowment of the Miles Franklin Literary Award ensured she would never be forgotten. In 2013 the Stella Prize for Australian Women's Writing, named in honour of Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, was awarded for the first time, cementing her reputation further."

My thoughts: I will come clean here and say straight up that I had no idea that Miles Franklin was a woman, let alone that she had been a feminist, activist, and lived through two World Wars. When I saw this book would be coming out, I immediately requested a copy to try and remedy my ignorance.

And what a wonderful remedy this was! Clearly extremely well-researched and wonderfully put together, you can feel the personality of Miles coming straight through. And while I normally don't like sensing the biographer's touch, Roe managed to keep a light touch that just helped everything to flow along, and I loved the moments where there was no fact, so Roe just made a few assumptions for us to do with what we will.

Miles Franklin was a remarkable woman - from starting to write very early in life, to her decision to move to America, then England, and then back to Australia; her activism and firm belief in equal rights for men and women. I really took to the photo of her on the cover of the book, and would often flip back from the part I had been reading to really try and picture her doing the things that were written about. If you are looking for a way to remedy your own ignorance, or just fancy a really well-written romp of a biography, I highly recommend you check this one out.

{I received a review copy of this from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!}

A favourite line from the book: [On Miles's successful publication of her first children's book.] 'According to Pixie, children were honest and 'your audience doesn't grow stale, there's always another batch coming along, like scones.''

You would like this book if: You intrigued by Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin; you enjoy a beautifully put together biography; you are interested in the history of Australian literature.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Hmmm, I'd say a nice black tea, perhaps out of a Waratah Cup?

Rating:  8/10

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