This was another hit for me on the Booker winners list. From the start right through I felt compelled to keep going and to understand the fate of Ned (Edward) Kelly. I’d not heard of Ned Kelly before but the internet assures me he’s an Australian legend and rightfully so if there’s any hint of truth in what Peter Carey has written in this novel (even if there’s not it’s still a good story!).
Each chapter of the book is introduced with the format of how it is written throughout Kelly’s adventures on the run from the police from the back of old envelopes to proper notebooks. It sets the scene for the erratic world in which Kelly is living.
I felt some similarities with the young Ned Kelly to the character of Vernon in Vernon God Little which I reviewed recently. Both are young boys trying to make the most of life, but the odds (& their mothers – intentionally or not) are seemingly against them at every turn.
The context also felt similar to that of Eleanor Cattons ‘The Luminaries’ which I read a while ago, the harsh realities of living in rural Australasia and the approach of police to those who don’t fit the mould.
There’s no questioning that Ned Kelly’s character is a tough and intimidating character but the violent actions he takes are not without his justification and belief in justice for his family who are demonised by the police and the public because of their reputation in the communities they travel through.
This was a good book which I enjoyed getting into and felt like it flew by. The language is clever and I found myself smiling at a number of quirky quotes throughout even in harsh circumstances in the storyline.
“He were still smiling but his voice were hard as a spoon rattling in a metal cup.”
“..however she was a woman and I’d have more luck conjuring up the thoughts of a chinaman than I would figuring out what she was conspiring”