Walk to the Paradise Gardens

Walk to the Paradise Gardens

by Charmian Clift
published 1959
Ligature untapped
genre Literary Fiction

Paradise Gardens is not the idyllic holiday escape Charles and Julia Cant imagined. It's a down-at-heel seaside town where local big man Roy and his wife tempt them to behave in ways they’ll be sure to regret…

In her introduction, Nadia Wheatley asks: ‘is it a romance? A thriller? A melodrama? A tragedy? Is it a Gothic? Is it a lyrical exploration of a physical and emotional landscape? An allegory about Heaven and Hell? Or is it simply an account of an accommodation made in the empty relation­ship of two sort of proto-yuppies?’ She doesn’t answer the questions: it’s for the reader to decide.

First published in 1959, and reissued in 1989, Walk to the Paradise Gardens is the first ‘real’ novel Charmian Clift wrote alone (her earlier works, Mermaid Singing and Peel Me A Lotus were semi-autobiographical). This edition contains the 1989 edition's introduction by Nadia Wheatley, author of the award-winning biography The Life and Myth of Charmian Clift (2002), who also suggests that Paradise Gardens is a fictionalised Kiama, the south coast town where Clift grew up.

Charmian Clift (1923–1969) was an acclaimed Australian writer. She left Australia and then London to live on the Greek Island of Hydra in the 1950s with her husband George Johnston. Her books include Mermaid Singing (1956), and Peel Me a Lotus (1959), and the Sydney Morning Herald-Literary Competition winning High Valley (1949), co-written with George Johnston and also part of the Untapped Collection.