Three sections at the beginning of Marion Campbell’s second novel, Not Being Miriam, initiate its preoccupations and problems. They relate incidents from the childhood of Bess Valentine, its major character. In the first and shortest, Bess creates a transforming ritual, a childish game with significant narrative implications. Bess strips herself and Sean, paints their bodies with clay, the children enter the water which washes away the clay; then she dresses in Sean’s boxer shorts and clothes him in her bubble bathers.
Marion Campbell’s first book is an ambitious work in which large themes are explored through the consciousness of a complex character, Rita Finnerty, a twenty-five-year-old Australian artist living in France. The writing is richly dense with images, symbolic clues, psychological insight poetic and painterly language, time layered with memory and even stories within the story.