This is a novel based on the life of Kate Kelly, Ned’s sister. It is a retelling of the outlaw legend from the point of view of the women in the family. The story is related by Kate, as she watches the inexorable destruction of her family and experiences first-hand the tragic price of notoriety.
‘I’ve tried to show how a specific woman, victim of a system and a myth, symbolises class struggle in nineteenth-century Australia – how the rich had the power to ruin the poor then, as now, how women, then and now, have always been left out of history, and what it’s done to them, but as individuals, not a class.’ — Jean Bedford ‘Author’s Statement,’ Australian Literary Studies
‘In [Sister Kate] the hitherto scarcely-visible Kate Kelly, hovering on the margins of a national myth about a gang of men, becomes the centre of consciousness in a retelling of that myth and is given a chance to tell her own story, the woman’s story.’ — Kerryn Goldsworthy, Meanjin
‘Out of the male past, Bedford fashions a disturbing figure, the female inheritor who broods over the Kelly legend … Sister Kate has simplicity and energy, moving swiftly and surely through a life held in the custody of the past.’ — Helen Daniel, The Age
‘Sister Kate is likely to remain one of the most interesting and unusual of the contemporary Australian novels … Bedford’s careful research, perceptive historical reconstruction, and sensitive exploration of the roles for women in nineteenth-century Australia, combine to make this a formidable novel.’ — Pam Gilbert, Coming Out From Under: Contemporary Australian Women Writers
‘… Sister Kate is a very good novel. I like Bedford’s language, the first person narrative which echoes the lilting Irish speech of the Kellys, her sensitive and sensual descriptions … the imagery throughout the novel which is based on the sights and sounds of the Australian bush, the interludes into third person narration … I especially liked the control which Bedford exhibits in her writing when dealing with some of the more horrific aspects of the story.’ — Frances McInerny, Australian Book Review
‘In form [Sister Kate] recalls Wide Sargasso Sea … sparked by the same sense of identification with a character who has been hard done by … Jean Bedford has a sure sense of the period and an even surer sense of narrative. Both animate what could have been merely a good feminist idea into an original and affecting novel.’ — Sandra Hall, the Bulletin
‘We need more novels like [Sister Kate], deconstructing the historical past to show the human cost of events in Australia’s past.’ — Lisa Hill, ANZ LitLovers, http://anzlitlovers.com