Ned Kelly – Australia’s most potent legend – tells his own story of the very human man behind the mask. A young boy raised in the grinding poverty of colonial Victoria grows into a young man defying the wealth and power of those who would destroy him. He speaks to us not as a mythic hero but as a devoted son, a concerned father and a loyal friend.
This internationally acclaimed novel is written in the idiom of Kelly’s famous Jerilderie letter. It is both a lament and tribute, a boy’s defence of his mother and a father’s confiding letter to a daughter he will never meet.
Our first Peter Carey novel was met with positive views all around this month. Although not all members got a chance to finish it, those who did rated it high and found Carey’s unique interpretation of Ned very enjoyable and it helped to build an empathy for the poorer immigrants of the time.
We had a great discussion on Irish genealogy and the corrupt conduct of the police. Our overall perception of Ned was that, given the prejudice his family experienced, he didn’t have much chance of getting on the right side of the law.
Does this mean Ned Kelly was not the dangerous bushranger we are led to believe? We are not sure about that, but Carey’s take on the history certainly leaves room for doubt, and along with it, an extremely enjoyable read!