Jun 15 2010

The True History of the Kelley Gang

Published by at 8:37 am under Books

by Peter Carey
I am not a fan of historical fiction. My dislike for it probably comes from the mixing of ‘fact’ and fiction in a blend that I can not split apart (which is probably impossible as ‘fact’ is often not very solid). I’ve read some history in the past, but am not generally very knowledgeable. Despite that bias against historical tales, I enjoyed this book about a famous Australian outlaw of the 19th century.
The story is well told with a convincing sense of detail that paints a clear sense of the extent to which Irish in Australia were abused and persecuted by the ruling English and clear picture of the roughness of life at that time and place. Kelley was the son of an Irish convict sent to Australia who then grew up in poverty and with a chip on his shoulder. If this telling is to be believed, he was motivated by a sense of justified indignity and outrage at the way his family was treated. The truth is probably more complicated.
Worth a read.

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