This book has been on my TBR for years. For some reason, I got it into my head that it was huge. It isn’t. The someone (I forgot again to note who) blogged about the author–a woman, writing under a man’s name. That, and the number of pages, got me to boot it to the top of my TBR list since it worked for both Aus Reading Month and for Novellas in November–a different kind of “win-win.”
Sybylla is a firey, headstrong, Tom boy of the old school who won’t be reformed into a dainty drawing room porcelain doll, just waiting for a marriage proposal. But in Victorian-era Australia, that is what she should want to be and do. When her parents luck changes for the worst, Sybylla is finally rescued by her grandmother who brings her to live at her house with extended family. Sybylla is afforded opportunities that would otherwise have been denied her. (Once such gives rise to the title phrase.) One opportunity is the very wealthy young man with whom she falls in love. But, surely she’d rather be a writer? Oh, it was confusing for her.
But the real world her parents are inhabiting is not yet done with Sybylla. That is what makes this book so much more interesting than a typical Victorian romance. I cannot write more or it would be a spoiler.
The descriptive prose in this book is magnificent. I felt I was THERE where ever Sybylla was at the moment. It was all very real and the later parts of the book were too real. It is justly called a “classic” in every way.