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True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey
Published by
Faber and Faber, 2000

This novel tells the life story of one of Australia's most notorious criminals, Ned Kelly. It is set in late nineteenth century and takes the form of a journal as written by Ned Kelly for the daughter he has never seen. It is a sympathetic account from his poverty stricken early childhood, and the harsh injustices of his youth, right through to his final days. He shares a strong bond with his mother, who always seems to be on the wrong side of the law. His father died when Ned was only twelve and there is a sense of inevitability as he becomes first a horse thief, then a bank robber and later a police killer. His memory lives on as Australia's answer to Robin Hood.

This is a well-researched and well written book. The style of writing is unusual in that there are no punctuation marks - this may be slightly disconcerting initially but coupled with the colloquial language, it adds atmosphere to the book. It is a convincing read with interesting sub-plots. It also provides an interesting perspective on Irish immigrants in Australia at that time. Worth reading.

Reviewed by Ennis Book Club.