Ikey Solomon's favorite saying is also his way of doing business, and in the business of thieving he's very successful indeed. Ikey's partner in crime is his mistress, the forthright Mary Abacus, until misfortune befalls them. They are parted and each must make the harsh journey from thriving nineteenth century London to the convict settlement of Van Diemen's Land.
In the backstreets and dives of Hobart Town, Mary learns the art of brewing and builds The Potato Factory, where she plans a new future. But her ambitions are threatened by Ikey's wife, Hannah, her old enemy. The two women raise their separate families, one legitimate and the other bastard. As each woman sets out to destroy the other, the families are brought to the edge of disaster.
©1995 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2000 Bolinda Publishing Pyt Ltd by arrangement with Penguin Group (Australia)
"In the tradition of Charles Dickens, Courtenay creates a unique cast of characters from the outset of this epic novel....Humphrey Bower's performance is a marvel...making this one of those rare books with a sweep of characters the readers come to care about deeply." (AudioFile)
I was looking for a different type of book as I usually go for authors I'm familiar with who have a formula. I'm really glad I took a chance on this book. It's a work of historical fiction loosely based on the true story of Ikey Soloman who supposedly Charles Dickens modeled his Fagin character after. I've only just finished this first installment and loved it. I definitely plan on reading parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.
First, the author's narration was excellent. He could do a number of different dialects from a posh British accent, to various British regional dialects. His narration helped create the wonderful richness within the characters of the book.
The strength of the book itself are the characters who are both strong and deeply flawed. This is a novel that takes place over numerous years and over many continents. The characters' lives are intertwined and full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. If you like books with richness of characters whose lives you follow over time, then this is the book for you. I fully recommend it - you won't be disappointed.
No, I would not try another book by this author. The reader was adequate. Each character was despicable, including the children. I couldn't have cared less about them in the end. The author couldn't resist putting his political and spiritual perspective into the narrative instead of simply telling the story. He managed to offend me by his unfortunate stereotyping of most of the Christian institutions and characters, saving the Quakers. I don't question the authenticity of his research (mostly), only the moral conclusions and judgments regarding the economic, political and spiritual environments of the times that he felt compelled to impart to the listener through use of sarcasm and ridicule. Just tell the story, Bryce and let me draw my own conclusions.
This looked like it would be wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed the author's introduction, but this book is so very, very dark, I just can't get through it. The main characters have so few redeeming characteristics, that I can't sympathize with them at all.
Very depressing storyline, it would be nice if they had some more positive things happen.
Interesting, liked the history.
Yes, I enjoy reading the next one to find out what happened to the twin and why he was gone for so long.
A little gruesome but a good story.
Yes. Pure genius how humphrey bower read/acted this entire book and trilogy. I was in awe at his ability to have different voices for each character and maintain them through all 60 hours of audio for the trilogy! Absolutly splendid!
Mr bower brings the story completley alive from the first page to the last. Amazing talent!
great story-informative-well read
this series is going to put me where I have not been before-Australia is new to me
the characters come alive
I think that it is a perfect name
looking forward to the next 2 books
I haven't read the print version, but I can't imagine not hearing Humphrey Bower's voice reading to me.
There seemed to be a memorable moment every few paragraphs, but I think the early story of Mary sticks with me the most.
When Ikey dressed up to visit the bank.
I tried my hardest, but I just had to go to bed.
I don't know how I got to be so old without having heard of Bryce Courtenay. I read recently a comment that most people learn history through novels. That is certainly the case with these novels of Australia and New Zealand. And if my history books had been read to me by Humphrey Bower, I'd have been an A+ student. Good readers make you forget they are there, and Mr. Bower goes one better by making you believe each character is speaking directly to you. The story of Sally is a good example. When she sings her song of the blue whale, I thought to myself, "Hey, she's got a pretty good voice," and then remembered that SHE was not there at all.
Havent read it, but I think both would be good. This audio is great as the reader manages to give so much variation to each character,especially Solomon and Mary who's voices seem to make them actualy visible.
Has to be Mary, with Solomon a close second
There were too many scenes to pick out just one. But the most powerful scene for me was when Mary applies for her job on the docks.
I would have loved to sit on my back porch and listen to the whole thing - it was entirely too engrossing to put down. Sadly, life does get in the way.
Dont let the crazy title get in the way. There is no potato, no factory in this book. There is a wonderfully drawn picture of life for the lower classes in not so jolly England on the 19th century where it was known by all that women were born inferior as were the lower classses, you couldnt teach the childrent of lower classes so dont waste your time on that. Being sentenced to criminal island Australia turned out for many to be the beginning of a new and better life - but more about that in book two!
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