Review: Larry Cummins, Bushranger

Review: Larry Cummins, Bushranger

Peter Long once again impresses with his new novel, Identity:Larry Cummins – Bushranger, where he explores his own family ties to the infamous bushrangers so integral to Australian culture.

After the resounding success of Steve Hart: Last Kelly Standing, this next novel takes a step back from the glitz and glam of the Kelly gang to focus on a more homegrown name, the story of the infamous Larry Cummins, who happens to be Peter’s own ancestor.

Described as a ‘deconstructed novel’, historical fact is weaved with historical storytelling for a gripping narrative that intrigues as it unravels the chronology of Larry’s life.

The flexibility of the narrative, Peter’s own remarks entwined with Larry’s story, is a bold choice to make, but one that is pulled off with true blue Aussie fortitude.

Tracing family ties

Peter’s opening remarks are as gripping as the novel itself, written as an ode to the discovered truth of his family name.

He details the process of uncovering more and more of the life of his great-grandfather, enticing a reader in with the promise of exploits such as riding with bushrangers Ben Hall and Frank Gardiner, or the heist of a mail coach that ran from Bathurst to Mudgee, but there’s plenty more to the story.

There are plenty who get their say, and every perspective has their own distinct view of the world.

From Peter’s musings on the nature of family history, to the story of Larry’s wife Bridget and an exploration of their love, Identity doesn’t hold back on exploring the multifaceted nature of bushranger life.

Australia’s biggest heist

Of course, Larry’s own life remains the highlight of the novel. Starting with the aforementioned heist, one of the biggest in Australian history at that time according to Peter’s introduction, Identity takes no prisoners with the ups and downs of Larry’s life, exploring his time in prison with the same depth as his life as a free man.

Though, as a reader will find, Larry has a particularly lucky break compared to some bushrangers, to the point that Peter makes it clear in the first chapters that ‘Larry’s Luck’ is a known quantity to the family.

Bold story telling style

Part of what makes Identity a great read is how the style is not afraid to alter itself, some chapters reading almost like freestyle poetry, a stream-of-consciousness soliloquy that contrasts beautifully with the classic-style prose.

In particular, the chapter detailing one of Larry’s experiences in prison reads near-perfectly as a slam poem, with reoccurring elements and the evocative, desperate struggle to keep his sense of reason.

A historical novel that will delight fans of the genre, but still with an invigorating spin that keeps it engaging for a modern-day reader on the go.

A perfect novel for anyone looking to escape into the action-filled past of Australian bushrangers.

Buy Identity: Larry Cummins, Bushranger via the Hawkeye book store here.

Learn more about author Peter Long here.

Peter Long








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