Man Booker Prize, Fiction, 2001
Ned Kelly's name resonates in Australia the same way the name Jesse James does in America. Was he a crusading folk hero or murderous horse thief and bank robber? Who was the real Ned Kelly? As the impoverished son of an Irish convict, Kelly was cheated, lied to, and abused by the English. Committed to fighting back against oppression, Kelly and his gang of outlaws eluded police for nearly two years. Brilliantly novelized by Peter Carey, the story of the Kelly Gang unfolds from a series of 13 compassionate letters written, while on the run, by Kelly to his infant daughter. Building from this historical legend and testing our sympathies, Carey crafts a deeply humanistic piece of historical fiction, a tale of injustice and violence.
©2000 Peter Carey (P)2001 Recorded Books
"No reader will be left unmoved by this dramatic tale....A novel that teems with energy, suspense and the true story of a memorable protagonist." (Publishers Weekly)
"Historical fiction doesn't get much better than this." (School Library Journal)
"Packed with incident, alive with comedy and pathos...contains pretty much everything you could ask of a novel." (The New York Times Book Review)
The True History of the Kelly Gang is, hands down, the best recorded book I have ever heard. Peter Carey is truly a gifted writer whose ear for 19th Century Australian Irish "selector" dialogue is amazing. The reader, Giancarlo Negroponte, is a masterful and talented voice actor. I knew nothing about Ned Kelly before listening to this book and have been inspired to learn more about Australia's national hero. I did not want this book to end and can still hear Ned Kelly's voice in my head. Carey's literary, fictionalized version of the Kelly Gang's story achieves something truly remarkable. It conveys, in the way that only exceptional poetry and prose can, the essence of how the heritage of transportation formed the unique Australian identity and of how Ned Kelly in particular embodied the belief that something good could come of convicts.
The book is lively, amusing and interesting. The narrator is the best I've heard. His reading captures the book's diverse characters in a clear and distinctive manner without seeming actorish.
The Australian Jesse James and Abe Lincoln all rolled into one; perhaps those with more knowledge of the tale will enjoy this book; it is "historical fiction;" the known facts are all in there, but the rest (childhood, Ned Kelly's relationship with his mother, etc.), are made up. So it is sort of an interesting psychological profile of the man who dared to stand up to the English; and to take on the corruption which resulted from Australia's beginnings as an English penal colony. But in the end, you don't really know why he did it; even with all the psychological profiling. So, what was the point of all that?
The work is supposedly based on writings by Kelly, newly discovered. And, in fact, some of his writings were discovered in the late 1980's. Perhaps some judicious abridgement would help this book, but I struggled to finish it.
The narration is ok; but it is troubled by some repetition of the word "adjectival" . . . reminiscent of the use of "expletive deleted" in the Nixon tapes. Even if that is how they really talked back then, it was a bit much.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
I 'effing' love Peter Carey's prose. An 'adjectival' masterpiece of historical fiction and myth-making.
Life long fan of the mystery story. I like books where something actually happens, so history and biography are favorites of mine also. I also think that even good books are improved tremendously when an actor performs the narration.
I got this because I wanted to learn more about the Autstrailian anti-hero, Ned Kelly. The story is sadder than I thought it would be. Ned Kelly and his family certainly have more than their share of bad luck; but I got tired of the Kellys believing that they were always the victims of circumstance and corruption. This story makes it clear that the Kellys and their families were mostly criminals, which is why they were harassed by the police.
The story also makes it clear that there is NOTHING glamorous about being an outlaw.
I really liked the Austrailian narration, but didn't understand a lot of the slang (maybe there is a glossary in the dead tree edition). And it would have been a bit less distracting if the narrator had either used the cuss words, or dropped them, but the "adjectival" frequently interferred with the flow of the narration.
Fact based fiction, as the writer tells you in the interview at the end. Great story, well writen and narrated. As one who has listened to well over 300 audio books, this is in the top 40 or so. Well worth the money. Listen and Enjoy!
Although the author did a fantastic job of fictionalizing the story surrounding the true story of Ned Kelly, it's true aspects of the story that are most amazing. The fact that every step of Ned's life were guided by despiration makes for real page turner. The Aussie accents take a bit getting used to, but I learned a lot of colorful phrases and a lot about Aussie history and culture.
The author and narrator combine to create a completely engrossing world and character. It's remarkable how much joy and hope these characters make within the limits of a tough world. (I loved "adjectival" and "cove" and the few other slang terms that are part of the vividness of the story.)
Much of the narrative is painful to hear. However, since this is the "true" story it did occur. It got a little much and I'm not one to demand sweetness from all books. It does give insight as to how a society can create criminals.
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