Sneaky Little Revelations

Selected Essays of Charmian Clift

Edited by Nadia Wheatley

Nadia Wheatley

NewSouth Rrp. $34.95

Charmian Clift is a timeless writer; her words resonate today as much as when they were written for her weekly column in the Sydney Morning Herald back in the 1960s. 

Her personal and incomparable style is chatty but not lightweight. No doubt being married to well-known author George Johnston (My Brother Jack etc.) with whom she collaborated, shadowed her own career path. Her biographies “Mermaid Singing” and “Peel Me A Lotus” and novels, Honour’s Mimic” and “Walk to the Paradise Gardens” were written during, what seems to have been, a colourful period on Hydra (the international literati of the day, including Leonard Cohen, hung out with them in Greece). 

Returning to Sydney when her husband was hospitalised for months with tuberculosis and having to manage a family and a household the Herald columns were possibly all she could manage. But, they illuminate an era with passion, humour and insight – whether you agree with her views on world events, politics, or what colour to paint the kitchen, or not.

Nadia Wheatley has done a skilful job in detailing when each column was written and the times and issues it reflects. 

Sadly, Charmian took her life in 1969.

I so wonder what she might have written under other circumstances. (see essay “on painting bricks white p17 )


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