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Can You Hear the Sea? My Grandmother’s Story (Brenda Niall, Text)

When Brenda Niall was 10 years old her grandmother gave her a cedar box that was made more than 50 years ago by a brother who died as they were sailing to Australia to start a new life. This object carried a great weight of memory and association, and is the catalyst for Niall’s gentle memoir of her beloved grandmother. Born Agnes Maguire in Liverpool in 1869, Niall’s grandmother migrated to Australia in 1888, married a Riverlands grazier in 1893, was widowed in 1908 and died in 1953. Niall fleshes out these bare facts using family papers and recollections, painting a portrait of a woman whose life may have been considered ordinary by history, but who mattered dearly to her family. Aggie Gorman was a product of her times in many ways, but also a proud, determined and strong individual, who always put the children first and gave them the gift of intellectual freedom. Niall constructs her biography in a straightforward and primarily factual style, occasionally venturing into conjecture. This book will be of interest to readers who enjoy stories about how regular people fit into their times, rather than great historical trends. It is an affectionate tribute to someone who quietly but firmly shaped her own place in the world.

Lindy Jones is a senior buyer and bookseller for Abbey’s Bookshop in Sydney


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