This is the fictionalized story of real life prince of fences - Ikey Solomon - and his long suffering mistress, the fictional Mary Abacus. In every way a brutal tale, chilling heartbreaking and riveting. I was not sure I could bear the brutality of certain scenes - but for the amazing talents of Narrator Humphrey Bower! This book was all the more powerful and heart-wrenching thanks to Bower's ability to bring the voices, dialects and 19th Century slang to life and to carry us through the hell that Courtenay's characters endure with the spunk and determination that prevented this story from wallowing in its own despair.
I was captivated by the world Bryce portrays and horrified by the cruelty of its inhabitants. This is not a tale for the faint of heart, and I may need to catch my breath before picking up the sequel, Tommo & Hawk, but I will long have these voices in my head - not to mention the song sung by Sperm Whale Sally . . . . Well done Mr. Bower. Well done, me dearie.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
THAT DON'T WISH HE WAS AN ENGLISHMAN. WHAT...
Every hundred books are so you come across a gem like this. This is why I continue to read and explore new authors. BC says you learn more through story then you do history books and I could not agree more. This story had well developed characters (that I did fall in love with, even though they were criminals.) an intriguing story and it is just so well written. If you read my reviews you find that I often complain about books being to long. This was over 23 hours and I loved every minute. I could have easily listened to 23 more hours.
There are three main characters, but listen to the names of some of the supporting cast; The Reamer, Tittie Smart, Sparrow Fart, Monkey Mary, Mary Abacus, Billy's Gone Queer, and Sperm Whale Sally, among others.
If you like George R. R. Martin and how he suddenly out of the blue, cuts somebody's hand off or penis, then you will like this. Some have said this is predictable, but I disagree. I did not see what was going to happen and at times when things were going to good, I would start to mentally cringe, expecting the worse, but that did not always happen either.
This first book of the trilogy is mostly about London, but they do get to Australia and the first part of the book is exceptionally good.
Bower was the perfect narrator for this, it is always great when the perfect book gets matched with the perfect narrator.
Engaging, realistic, cruel
The description of Ike's coat and the way he has everything arranged in it.
The narration is perfect for the story.
Mary, at true survivor
This story is most realistic for the time period; be prepared to hear the cruelty...it stays with you.
Cape Town, South Africa
Bryce Courtenay creates another vivid and rich world of characters who face the most awful circumstances with an iron will not to be defeated and come out on top! A tapestry of history, intrigue and art superbly woven together into an engaging novel narrated by narrator extraordinaire! I will continue with the next 2 parts of the trilogy and have no doubt they will make for as entertaining listening as this part 1!
I love to listen to audiobooks that have a great story, interesting characters, and teach me something at the same time- these are a treasure. The Potato Factory is just such a historical novel and I almost missed it because of the boring title! How glad I am that I didn't. Onto Book 2- Tommo and Hawk....
In the top 10 of my audio book list so far.
The description of the smells
Hard to say
I spend so much time driving on business trips or suffering in boring exercise. For over 40 years I dreamed of something like Audible.
Through the years I've spent a great deal of time with Aussies. Australians truly like Americans. I like that, and I like Aussies too. But I also like Brits, and have always been surprised at how much Australians hate them. They hate the British almost as much as the Irish hate the British. If a bar is equally populated between Australians and Englishmen there will be a fist fight. The Australians will always begin the row, and usually finish it. There is a pub in London, where Yanks, Canucks, Kiwis and Aussies show their passports to enter. Brits are not allowed.
Many times I've heard Aussies describe themselves as"POME", pronounced POM-EE, It stands for "Prisoner of Mother England". I've been told about how Australia originated from English prisoners being exiled to prisons in Australia. But I had little detail. Courtenay's "The Potato Factory", based on a true story, eloquently tells us a story about the life of the prisoners, and of the life in early Australia.
The Potato Factory is truly a great story; well written with great characters. It is very descriptive, without belaboring the process. You can clearly visualize the characters and their surroundings.
The story begins in London. As it progressed, I couldn't help thinking of Charles Dickens. Then I was surprised to find Dickens, and Dickens' character, "The Artful Dodger" actually part of the book. What a treat.
For anyone who enjoys stories about 19th Century England and now Australia, don't pass this one up. I'll soon be starting "Tommo and Hawk".
I would listen to the book again, however the story is so vivid, that I would need to delay the rehearing.
The Potato Factory is reminiscent of a Charles Dickinson story.
I did not have a strong emotional reaction to the Potato Factory,as thankfully my life does not compare with the hard-scrabble life of the characters. However I fell I learned a great deal about England and Australia and the locations and atmosphere the book depicted were very stirring.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loved a little history lesson mixed in with a very good "read"
Potato Factory ranks amongst the top 5 books I've listened to. Ironically, two others are also written by Bryce Courtenay and read by Humphrey Bower. They are "The Price of One" and "Tania".
So many memorable moments! The crushing of Mary's hands by the jealous job seekers on the London wharves, the overseas journey in the women's slave boat, and the intrigue amongst the London thieves were fascinating and gripping at the same time.
Everything! His accents for the various characters bring the characters to life. His performance is amazing.
Yes, I found myself listening to it every moment I could carve free from my schedule.
Bryce Courtenay and Humphrey Bower are a formidable team. I highly recommend three other Courtenay books, "The Power of One", "Tania", and the "Four Fires". You will be brought to laughter then tears and finally exclaiming out loud as you listen to these books.
The weaving of the tale that created Sperm Whale Sally
An amazing story teller
This book moved into my number one position right after The Power of One.