Women’s histories, Elizabeth Crayford

The Ventricle of Memory
Shelagh Duckham Cox, 
Shelagh Duckham Cox Co, $35.00,
ISBN 9780473363864

Casting Off
Elspeth Sandys
Otago University Press, $35.00,
ISBN 9780947522551

Shelagh Duckham Cox’s memoir, The Ventricle of Memory, begins in June 1940. Aged five, Shelagh and her younger siblings are on a train bound for north Wales, having left behind their substantial upper-middle-class home in Surrey, and “the people who used to look after our family”: the gardener, the gardener’s boy, nanny, housemaid, kitchen-maid and cook, as well as a much-loved grandmother. Her parents sit opposite them, and Shelagh watches her mother’s “secret smile” as she lights a cigarette, only to be interrupted by baby Katherine’s cry. “Do something,” her father says, and returns to his book.

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