I found this book by mistake! I typed into Audible "New Zealand" and saw that the second book in this series had the highest ratings under my NZ search... so I took a chance and listened to all 3 books. I loved them all. I loved the history, the fictional characters, and most of all I was astounded by Humphrey Bower's AMAZING versatility in terms of accents and voices. This is a brilliant AUDIObook thanks to him. Don't get me wrong, I still would have enjoyed all three books if I had read them, but Bower's voices and accents are like nothing I have ever heard come out of one person in one audiobook.
I LOVED the 1st & 2nd books in their own right. I liked the 3rd book, and needed to read it just to know the end of the story, and I have no regrets. Courtenay doesn't mind dragging his characters through hell and back in order to tell this historical amazing story of England, Australia, and New Zealand. Being an American who has spent significant time in all three countries I found it exciting, educational, and, do to his strong character development, I was also emotionally invested. I was devastated when characters were hurt and jubilant when something good happened to them. And this emotion was heightened due to Humphrey Bower's amazing characterizations through accent and intonations.
Bravo, and thanks to both Courtenay and Bower for making these three books a great experience for me, and I can only say that I am sad that the saga is over.
I liked the continuing story of Tommo & Hawk. It literally picked up right where The Potato Factory left off. What I didn't care for was the very, very graphic descriptions of sexual acts. There is something just creepy about having the narrator voice both the male and female voices right down to the moans. Ick.
I was so happy to find it began exactly were Potato Factory left off. I just didn't want Potato to end. Bowers is such an excellent reader, I don't know how he does it. I enjoyed every minute of it. It could really stand alone.
Of the series of three books, The Potatoe Factory is a solid 4-star while the two sequels are average 3-star books. The first book reads much like a Dickens novel especially the first half plus set in London. It is a nice story with villains you love to hate but enjoy following. The second and third installments are more formulaic and too politically correct in some ways. They are worth listening to if you want to continue the story into the next generations. The narrator is fantastic in this series.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
Since this book is so character driven, it felt less like historical fiction and more like plain old fiction set in another time. It's a bit of a swashbuckler with some unbelievable events. "The Potato Factory" was definitely the best of the bunch for me. After that, it's an enjoyable listen, but not much more than that.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I had a few issues with The Potato Factory, but it was a good story well told. I cannot say the same for this sequel. I found much of the book a little tedious because there is an abundance of narrative detail that doesn't really further the plot or character development. And, since the entire book is told first person in the voices of Tommo and Hawk, some of the long high-flown descriptions sound odd in the voice of someone relating a story - people don't give you every detail about the sun in the sky and every green thing growing on a mountain when telling a story. In addition, I didn't relate to these characters at all, I didn't have much sense of historical perspective from the novel, and I hated the ending. Humphrey Bower once again did a wonderful job of narration - easily switching between the voices and dialects of Tommo and Hawk - although his reading of the women characters' dialog is not as good as the men.
One bone to pick with Bryce Courtenay that isn't terribly relevant to whether or not the book works, but just bugged me. What was up with the American Quaker whaling caption??? With the Quakers having been instrumental in both the British and American abolitionist movements and since Quakers do not have a prohibition on alcohol, why choose to make this sanctimonious, tee-totaling, racist, and violent character an American Quaker?
Like The Potato Factory, you must be prepared for a fair amount of graphic violence (including sexual violence), but unlike The Potato Factory, there's not a rollicking great story to make it worthwhile. I bought the whole trilogy in a package deal so I am hoping the 3rd book is better, but I would not recommend Tommo and Hawk if you haven't bought it already.
I am always disappointed when I read one of Bryce Courtenay's sequels. The first books (and I've read and loved several so far) have been excellently written, with fully-realized characters and interesting stories. They always end with a hook and a bit of a question: "What happened then?" But try as he might, none of Bryce Courtenay's excellent first books are ever matched by their sequels. In fact, it's as if he turns the writing of them over to another writer, someone who is not his match and fails miserably to deliver. My advice is to read the first of his books and forget any sequels. No matter how much you wonder what happened with the characters, how it all worked out, you will be disappointed.