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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it but that doesn't mean you will.
Yes it won the Booker price, and yes I loved it but its' important that you realise that there is no guarentee that you will enjoy it.
The written style is main thing to worry about. The narrators voice, Ned Kelly, can be a hard read. I've heard of people who have said that the found the books style a real grind to read and have never even finished the book. For...
Published on 10 Aug 2003

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3.0 out of 5 stars Needed for college
Required for college. Good service. Personally I had no problems with its delivery and with the product itself. :-) :-)
Published 10 months ago by Aleena


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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it but that doesn't mean you will., 10 Aug 2003
By A Customer
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Yes it won the Booker price, and yes I loved it but its' important that you realise that there is no guarentee that you will enjoy it.
The written style is main thing to worry about. The narrators voice, Ned Kelly, can be a hard read. I've heard of people who have said that the found the books style a real grind to read and have never even finished the book. For me Ned Kelly's voice is utterly unique, free of the over intellectual prose of many authors. I was swept away, inside his head, into his world. I had never read anything like it.
It is clear Peter Carey has done a vast amount of research as well as made a massive leap of imagination. The gritty story is filled with tender and powerfully sad moments. It is certainly one of the most accomplished books I have read.
My advice, read a few pages or passages before you buy. If it you like the sound of it then go for it.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A passionate tale of hard-scrabble frontier life., 6 Jan 2006
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This is a "western" which gallops to life, and the reader feels the grit, smells the dust, and agonizes with desperate characters as they are tossed every which way, not by their own deliberate decisions so much as by the unpredictability of their Australian frontier existence.
Ned Kelly, the Jesse James of Australia, becomes human here, not a monstrous blackguard so much as a man who is forced to make impossible choices. In this tale, which purports to be the hand-written autobiography he wants to leave for his baby daughter, we follow his childhood in poverty, his reluctant "apprenticeship" to the villainous Harry Powers, his cruel imprisonment by corrupt authorities, and his attempts to stay out of trouble upon his release. The judicial system's attack on his mother, however, becomes the catalyst for Ned's life in crime, a life which the reader understands could have been completely different, had authorities simply shown more compassion.
Carey is masterful in using small details to show contrasts and to make the big picture come alive. A new pair of soft boots achieves almost mystical significance--the ecstasy of their acquisition contrasting with the strength achieved through their sacrifice. "Fresh bread and jam...barley and mutton soup," served to Ned in jail, provide poignant contrast to the poorer, leaner fare on the farm. And a red silk dress becomes a symbol for corruption in one context and love in another.
This is a vigorous, exuberant, and uncompromising vision of wilderness life and death. It is the sensitive portrayal of a young man forced to make impossible decisions to save and protect his family. And it is a passionate love story told with a warmth and sympathy that is all the more poignant for its contrast with the murder and death which accompany it. Satisfying and rewarding on all levels.
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68 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical tale of outlaws, poverty, hardship and prejudice., 19 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Peter Carey has written an unusual novel that is put together as a series of letters written by Ned Kelly the famous Australian outlaw and bushranger, who became a national hero. It is presented as a raw, personal journal, written to a daughter he would never see. This is not only a very interesting concept but also provides a good insight into life in 19th century Australia. This novel is set in the desolate settler communities north of Melbourne, Victoria in the late 19th century, during a time when the first Irish settlers in Australia faced many hardships and struggles.

Peter's novel is basically a corrective to the popular conception, among some Australians, of Ned Kelly being a thug, thief and murderer. Ned's portrayal in this work is nothing less than a folk hero and freedom fighter, a defiant exemplar of Irish-Australian cussedness in the face of colonial oppression. To the authorities, this son of dirt-poor Irish immigrants was a born thief and, ultimately, a cold-blooded murderer; to most other Australians, he was a scapegoat and patriot persecuted by "English" landlords and their agents. With his brothers and two friends, Kelly eluded a massive police manhunt for twenty months, living by his wits and strong heart, supplementing his bushwhacking skills with ingenious bank robberies while enjoying the support of most everyone not in uniform. He declined to flee overseas when he could, bound to win his jailed mother's freedom by any means possible, including his own surrender if necessary. Ned Kelly was executed by hanging for murder in 1880 in Melbourne, Victoria. In the end his mother served out her sentence in the same Melbourne prison where her son was hanged. We come to understand the poverty, hardship, and the prejudice of the colonial police force, during that period of time, particularly towards the Irish. These factors were all part of the plight of Ned Kelly and his gang. Was he a good boy gone wrong?
This is a tale of misunderstanding, foul justice, and the wringing of a family's heart. This novel is packed with history, incidents, alive with comedy and pathos, and contains everything that you could ask for in a truly great work.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Adjectival Good Book!!, 12 Feb 2002
To be honest I had not heard of Peter Carey before I had heard about this book. I bought the book and found I was completely drawn into this world of Australian settlers/immigrants lives in the mid 19 th century. Ned voice was given a clarity and such depth I found I could not put this book down. I did, however, find myself wanting to find out more of Ned, and his descendants....great book. I loved it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great if you don't need punctuation!, 17 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This is a riveting story of the struggle of a family to survive in nineteenth-century Australia. It is told by Ned Kelly himself and the language is correspondingly unpolished with very little use of punctuation. After the first chapter or so, however, you stop noticing the language and get involved in the story. This book has been greatly hyped because of the Booker Prize but it's probably one you should judge for yourself. There's lots that's worth reading even if you're not Australian!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece at several levels, 21 Feb 2002
By 
Heather Greer (Cleggan, Co Galway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I often don't enjoy Booker winners for some reasons, but this was different. For me, it's a masterpiece, at two levels. One is the more immediate and always enjoyable fictitious account, warm, infinitely sad at times, sometimes funny, of Ned Kelly and his family and fellow-travellers in early Australia. The account, written for his daughter whom he never meets or sees, is often self-justifying, distorted, frank, and always self-revealing. The other level concerns the whole basis of the book - written and laid out as if it is an accurate biography based on actual archive material, it raises fundamental questions about the truth and reality of the narratives built up about 'legend lives' - and, more generally, about the basis for any person's self-narrative, incuding and especially the reader's. How much self-justification and how much 'reality' go into any of our own life-accounts? It's a brilliant, more or less perfect book. Please buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping poetic book, filled with adventures, 18 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This book really deserves to win the Booker Prize twice. It's an amazingly well written book, filled with poetry from the moment you turn the first page. The character testing adventures of Ned leave you feeling sympathetic to his misfortune and the many obstacles he faces in his young life. His heart is in the right place but he is forever Beleaguered in the community. By reading this account, you have a personal insight in to this brave young man's struggle for survival and the psyche behind his actions.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging style that brings Kelly to life, 11 Aug 2005
This is an absorbing book, written as a sequence of letters supposedly penned by Kelly himself - his attempt to explain his life and death to a daughter he will not live to see. Carey has written the book without punctuation in a conversational style. I quickly got used to this and found that the technique gave weight and realism to the story. Carey tells us about the paper used for each set of letters and we can imagine Kelly coming across some scraps on which he can continue his story - it is a charming touch.
Although this is a fictional work, it is so well-written and Carey's mode of writing is so persuasive that it seems entirely plausible that Ned Kelly is speaking to us from beyond the grave. I enjoyed it enormously - it is imaginative, clever and very entertaining.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Barnstorming Australian Legend, 10 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Peter Carey has produced a wonderful novel. He has created a first-person narrative style complete with its own cut-down grammar, and produced a simple yet powerful account of a well-documented episode of Australian history. Carey invites you to see the world through Ned Kelly's eyes. He creates a startlingly vivid world, with an intense barrage of metaphors drawn from the natural environment; at times you can almost feel the dust in your hair and the lashing of the rain on your skin. The rages, passions and frustrations of Kelly's family as they try to eke out a living in the face of a corrupt and vindictive social system burst from the page. If this book were a wine, it would be a full-bodied, masculine, uncompromising Murray-valley Shiraz, earthy and intense.
Australian history has been a popular subject recently. Robert Hughes's Fatal Shore is a detailed and informative factual account of the hardships and misadventures of the early history of the Australian colony, and Matthew Kneale's excellent novel English Passengers is a clever, cerebral and witty analysis of the notions of race and culture that were being developed at the time, with such cruel consequences. However, such subtleties and abstractions are not required in Carey's novel. This helter-skelter account of a life lived fast and hard, hurtling toward its inevitable violent conclusion, is a triumph of creativity and style, and surely one of the first classics of the new century.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The song of Australia, 20 Aug 2004
By 
HORAK (Zug, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Mr Carey's novel relates the epic life of Ned Kelly in Australia in the second half of the 19th century. The text comes in the form of 13 parcels of varying length (from 7 to 50 pages). Sometimes they are sheets of National Bank or Bank of New South Wales letterhead, a cloth booklet, octavo pages, open envelopes providing space for text, a pocket diary or the reverse side of advertising fliers. They cover Ned's adventurous life until the manuscript abruptly terminates when he was 26 years old and it is told in a tone so wild and passionate that the reader often believes that the bushranger is speaking to him from the grave! It is a breathtaking account of an existence marked by a cascade of events where Ned is in turn a reformer, a criminal, a horse thief, a farmer, a bushranger and an orphan. Ned's voice is very convincing, continually creating new surprises on every page despite the plainness of his language, or rather perhaps because of it. Actually his uneducated voice is very much part of the originality of Mr Carey's novel.
The critics have ranked Mr Carey next to Charles Dickens and Lawrence Sterne - very rightly so, in my opinion.
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True History of the Kelly Gang
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey (Paperback - 3 Feb 2011)
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