12 January 2010

My Nine Lives

by Diane Cilento

Penguin Books. Australian, Biographical, Adult Non-Fiction. Softcover rrp $26.95

Diane Cilento is a wellknown Australian actress of the 1950s and 1960s. She married Sean Connery before he became famous as James Bond. Then left it all to move to Far North Queensland (or FNQ as she calls it) where she built the Karnak Playhouse, a centre for the arts.

The book, My Nine Lives, is about her fascinating life - all nine of them! She was brought up in Queensland, the daughter of two famous doctors, travelled at the age of 15 to London to study ballet but ended up taking acting classes. She married an Italian actor , performed in many plays in London and Broadway, and gave birth to a baby girl. She later married Sean Connery and had a son. After leaving Sean, she moved around England. Eventually to Queensland. She settled in Mossman, north of Cairns, where she built her own outdoor theatre — named "Karnak" — in the rainforest. The venture allowed her to participate in experimental drama and music. Around this time she married the playwright, Anthony Shaffer.

During her many lives Diane searched for her spiritual fulfilment, finally studying under the British mystic and spiritual teacher John G Bennett. From Gurdjieff to Sufism, Diane's journey has been deep, long and amazing.

Diane Cilento is one of those rare people who has followed her heart, in love, in her profession, and in her spiritual life. The journey has led her ever forward into new territory, even to Mecca as a Sufi pilgrim.

I expected to read about an actress who had married a famous actor and lived a glamorous life but I found much more - learning about mysticism and ultimately seeing inside myself.


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