The Secret Son explores the provocative idea that Australian bushranger Ned Kelly had a son James, who not only fought in Gallipoli, but stayed in Turkey and lived out his life in a remote mountain village. Cem, a troubled young Turkish-Australian man, comes to the village a century later to uncover his family’s past.
Jenny Ackland’s stunning debut novel is fresh on the shelves but already getting the attention it deserves, with this wonderful review on Readings’ website and a pithy piece in the Sydney Morning Herald that concludes:
Ackland effectively interweaves the past and the present as well as the voices that tell the story, James, Cem and the old Turkish woman, Berna, who links them. The Secret Son is infused with Ackland’s love of Turkey and its people. It is a powerful story of good and evil, and belonging.
Jenny lives in Melbourne but she lived in Turkey for a long time, and it’s her abiding love for the country and its people that makes for such a visceral reading experience.
I know that two men are coming up the mountain, at this moment, including the boy from far away. I wonder what my grandson’s face will look like. This is a boy in the skin of a man. I know the boy is innocent, that it’s his family soul which is guilty.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s the exhilarated author using a stack of her books as a pillow.