Brian Matthews reviews 'Half the Perfect World: Writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964' by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell

Brian Matthews reviews 'Half the Perfect World: Writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964' by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell

Half the Perfect World: Writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra, 1955–1964

by Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell

Monash University Publishing, $39.95 pb, 438 pp, 9781925523096

In August 1964, Charmian Clift returned to Australia from the Greek island of Hydra after nearly fourteen years abroad. As Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell portray her return – a description based, as always in this book, on solid or at least reasonably persuasive evidence – she ‘was leaving her beloved Hydra forever, with the pain of her departure sharpened by the sting of humiliation and exile’. By the time the return voyage had begun, she later recalled, ‘the audacious bite of decision has long since been blunted … The freshness of the adventure has worn off and uncertainty, alas, is practically all that remains.’

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Published in November 2018, no. 406
Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews

Brian Matthews is the author of short stories, essays, and biographies. He was a weekly columnist for the Weekend Australian Magazine (1997–2001) and has been a monthly columnist for Eureka Street since 1997. His memoir A Fine and Private Place (2000) won the inaugural Queensland Premier’s Award for non-fiction and his Manning Clark: A Life (2008) won the National Biography Award in 2010.