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)
After a few bad picks, I am thrilled to have discovered an amazing book with delicious writing and addicting story I can't put down! I am excited to see it's a trilogy because I never want it to end.
Rich characters, multi-line story, and reminds of my all-times favorite, Pillars of the Earth. Not in the story, but the complexity of characters and the unexpected development of their lives.
I am only in the middle of book 1, so I'll have to revisit this review when I am finished. But looks extremely promising!
the audio quality was a bit tinny, but I got used to it. The narrator did a really good job switching between characters, especially male/female. The story has great characters and really gives you gritty feel for life at that time. I found myself looking forward to getting into the car to pick up the story again.
The story and telling of it is superb. This Australian trilogy may well become a classic. Mr. Courtenay is a word-smith of the highest caliber. Mr. Bower is an excellent voice to represent this finely crafted novel. I look forward to the next books in the trilogy! Well Done.
doubt it, their sense of humor (?) is lost on me
I don't know- I didn't like the voices used but I also didn't like the characters.
I'm baffled as to the super positive reviews- I thought the book boring, the narrative poor, the characters unappealing. For sure, it's my perspective. Please take this book back!
Best narrator ever!
Defeating the Odds.
Humphrey Bower, in this series, is the best I've ever heard. He came out with the best and sometimes funniest voices. At times I was rolling with laughter.
Mr. Courtenay has certainly spun a fascinating, character-driven tale, but Mr. Bower's narration was simply stunning. I've been a member of Audible for two years now, and this ranks up there with "Pillars of the Earth" as far as pure listening pleasure goes. I will definitely check out the next book in this trilogy.
This is the first Bryce Courtenay's book I've listened to or read, but it won't be the last by any means. The attention to details, without becoming overbearing, and the fast pace of the story lines, makes this an easy read.
Being stuck in traffic is now a real pleasure.
I moved from England to live in Australia 45 years ago and although I've seen a lot of the country and learned quite a bit of its history it's never been in such an enthralling way.
Bryce Courtenay has fleshed out his characters to such an extent that I really felt worried about the awful things that befall Mary - really physically actually worried!
I felt much of the anguish that Mary felt having her boys suddenly disappear. By this point in the story I felt I knew the family.
This is the first time I've heard Humphrey Bower, but I would rate him as one of the best - if not THE best of any of the narrators I've heard - his constancy of the characters' voices and inflections are a marvel to listen to, and even when listening to narrative I feel that he's just recounting a story rather than reading from a page.
The Nation-Building Convicts
This book goes for almost 24 hours.
When I started listening I thought I'd need something a bit lighter before starting on the next book in the trilogy, but now I've almost finished it I can't wait to get stuck into Tommo and Hawk.
All in all a great read well narrated and a tremendous insight into the people who laid the foundations for what is now the greatest, luckiest country in the world.
The incredible power and range of the narrator. But, off course, he had to have the characters by the author so the combination of the two is truly memorable.
When Ike brought home the twins.
Everything and every single character.
I wouldn't rename it although I would rename the twins, Hawk is ok, but Tomo is really lame.
Am on the second book now and loving it as much as the first although I do miss Ike!
Looking forward to the third book but will be sad when it's over.
Amazing performance and story
The historical background of a time often thought of as idyllic.
That is a true problem pick since they were all so well developed. I think it is a tie between Mary Abacus and Icky Solomon.
Well work listening to. This will open your eyes to the value of human life in the past and how we have improved, though we are not perfect by a longshot
I loved all of the historical type narrative that made you feel you were back in the early to mid 1800s. The narration was excellent and the story kept your interest al the way through. The character development was great.
There is no comparison.
His command of accent and dialect. He is an excellent narrator.
Leave a Little Salt
Really well read and a gripping story. I was not sure what to expect from the information on the website but I was not at all let down. I enjoyed the narration and have listened to this story several times now. It is great every time. It makes you feel as though you are actually in 19th century London.The next stories in the trilogy Tommo and Hawk and then Solomon's Song are well worth a listen also
"Amazing, but a bit over the top and over long."
How to give this book less than 5 stars.... I wanted to give it 1 star after the first third, but it improved about half way through to be a very enjoyable listen. Unlike his first book, The Power of One, which is one of my favourites, and also read by H. Bower, this story can't quite cope with the vast scale Courtney is trying to convey. There are about 10 books worth in the first third alone, and the characterisation suffers for it. Courtney has very strong views about people, their motives and how much they can suffer or cause others to suffer, to which he gives full reign in this book. Personally, I found him a bit too hectoring at first and I got a bit bogged down in all the terrible violence, squalor, and general depravity. If it wasn't for the wonderful reading I would have given up after hour 9. Other people listening may not mind, but I found it both very nasty and a bit dull.... however, things definately improved. By the time the characters got on the way to Oz, his story settled down to become gripping and the characters were able to grow and become likable in their own right, rather than just being vehicles for displaying the writer's considerable research.
So, worth getting over the first third, but be prepared for lots of violence, depravity and human waste!!
I read the book years ago and knew that I would read it again one day and so getting it on audio was great idea!
I loved it as much second time round and Humphrey Bower does a brilliant job with all the characters voices.
How you come to love the main character Ikey Solomen is amazing as he is such a dirty rotten low life scoundrel! But loveable he is!
I will get the sequel also and hopeful enjoy that as much!
"Always leave a little Salt on the Bread !!!"
The wonderful enchanting characters,the locations that the story took me to, the never ending thrill of what is going to happen next to Mary, Ikey,and little Sparra - Fart !! Sigh ....
this is hard to say ,as I loved every bit of this book however on reflection perhaps it was the historical facts that Bryce weaved into his storytelling, these were an eye opener for me.
without a doubt " My Dear !" it is most definately.... Ikey Solomon..
Oh yes there were many, I didnt like what happened to Mary's Hands, the death of Sperm Whale Sally made me weep. one that I wont forget is the flogging of " Billy Gone Queer !"
Humphrey Bower has taken Bryce Courteney words and made them Sing .. He is so ,so ,good to listen to. i was totally captivated with his wonderful voice.. I recommend this book whole heartedly. I have started on book two and the Story goes on great!!
You have to read all three (Tommo and Hawk & Solomon's Song). Fantastic story, fact and fiction beautifully brought together and the narrator Humphrey Bower gave a powerful and convincing performance. These books cannot be ignored either audio or hardcopy, they make you laugh, cry and may be enhance your knowledge of English history. Bryce's research is perfection itself, I looked up some of the references and there's no doubt of the immense amount of work that has taken place to produce these outstanding stories. If you haven't bought them yet.... what are you waiting for?
"An excellent trilogy, download all three"
I loved these books, the narrator was fantastic as was the author. I cannot recommend enough
"Good historical novel with plenty of twists"
The Potato Factory covers the period of English history when villains were readily hanged or transported to the new world of Australia or Tasmania (Van Demons Land).
Ikey, the main character is the rouge on whom Fagin could have been based, he ran a gang of young boys teaching them all the tricks they would need for a life of crime, and making profit from them at the same time, but he had his fingers in many pies, fencing and forging of bank notes, this later was his downfall
The scramble to avoid arrest by the Bank of England officers by removing the high value printing plates from where the press is kept and as much of value that he can hide elsewhere.
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