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Can You Hear the Sea?: My Grandmother's Story
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Brenda Niall
Can You Hear the Sea?: My Grandmother's Story by Brenda Niall at Abbey's Bookshop,

Can You Hear the Sea?: My Grandmother's Story

Brenda Niall


Text Publishing Company

Biography: general


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ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— This gentle memoir of Niall's beloved grandmother shows how an ordinary person can still have a lasting impact and quietly shape their own place in the world. Agnes Maguire left Liverpool in 1888, aged 19, married a Riverland grazier in 1893 and was widowed in 1908. Whilst her family ‘back home' became important industrialists, and her brothers-in-law became wealthy, she herself was at best comfortable and towards the end of her life reduced in circumstances. Still she fostered a fierce love of reading in her many descendants, which has endured. An affectionate tribute. Lindy Jones


Brenda Niall has turned her biographer's eye to a personal subject - her grandmother, Aggie.

She tells the story of a fiercely independent and intelligent woman who braved a new country as a single woman, teaching in a country school, before marrying a Riverina grazier, whose large powerful family was wary of the newcomer with ideas of her own.

Aggie dealt with hardships and loneliness after the early and drawn-out death of her husband, and brought up her seven children to be happy - all with a calm determination. But it was the memory box and her longing for the sea that captured the imagination of her granddaughter.

By:   Brenda Niall
Imprint:   Text Publishing Company
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 143mm,  Spine: 32mm
Weight:   425g
ISBN:   9781925498790
ISBN 10:   1925498794
Publication Date:   October 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

`Gentle and engaging biography...Aggie was undoubtedly a remarkable and intelligent woman, and this book is a lovely testament to her life.' * Good Reading * `Niall's beautifully told tale will have echoes in thousands of other Australian families.' * SA Weekend * `[Niall] is clear about her process, asking questions, noting gaps, offering her own memories with an easy blend of intimacy and distance, in an authoritative yet conversational voice...Niall writes with respect for a woman who built a dynasty across centuries, was adventurous and stable, traditional and ahead of her time, English and embodied the best of Australia.' * Australian Book Review * `Insightful.' * Yours * `A fascinating subject...Hopefully people still find ways to write biographies that so adeptly capture the particularity of lived experience.' * Saturday Paper * `Aggies gift of the shell and the empty box put two questions to Brenda Niall. They also addressed her craft and her desire. Could she recreate the sounds and feel of the past out of unpromising materials, and could she fill the empty box while recognising that it remained empty? This book answers both questions with assurance. One might hope that among the next generation of Aggie's descendants another young person will hear in it the sea that flows into story telling.' * Eureka Street * `Can You Hear the Sea? creates a portrait, from other kinds of evidence, of a woman whose silence sealed her most intimate moments. With a light touch, Niall looks at her grandmother's life through the prism of the imaginative world in which she was immersed...Aggie's is a story of independence and grit: understated, necessary, uncelebrated.' * Australian * `An affectionate tribute to someone who quietly but firmly shaped her own place in the world.' * Books+Publishing * `Brenda Niall, the distinguished biographer of the novelist Martin Boyd and author of a swag of other books, has written a fond and fluent life of Mannix that captures the crispness and the passion, the humour and the enigma of the man who meddled with politics like a master magician.' * Sydney Review of Books on Mannix * `Brenda Niall has written perceptively about the different but complementary personalities of Mary and Elizabeth Durack. She has done the two sisters proud in this splendid and informative work.' * Catholic Weekly on True North * `Brenda Niall's Mannix is the most wise, shrewd and elegant biography yet produced of this complex and beguiling man. Niall's irresistible prose strengthens the candour of this fine book.' * Age on Mannix *

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