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The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1 | [Bryce Courtenay]

The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1

Always leave a little salt on the bread. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

Always leave a little salt on the bread...

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)

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (3705 )
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  •  
    Jackie United States 06-02-13
    Jackie United States 06-02-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Totally enjoyable tale"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    I would listen to the book again, however the story is so vivid, that I would need to delay the rehearing.


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to and why?

    The Potato Factory is reminiscent of a Charles Dickinson story.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loved a little history lesson mixed in with a very good "read"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Knize TUCSON, AZ, US 06-01-13
    David Knize TUCSON, AZ, US 06-01-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Oliver Twist---but much better!"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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".


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Potato Factory?

    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.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    Everything! His accents for the various characters bring the characters to life. His performance is amazing.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes, I found myself listening to it every moment I could carve free from my schedule.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P. Karz Santa Cruz, CA 05-28-13
    P. Karz Santa Cruz, CA 05-28-13 Member Since 2012
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    17
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    "An Incredible tale that you don't want to end"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Potato Factory?

    The weaving of the tale that created Sperm Whale Sally


    Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    An amazing story teller


    Who was the most memorable character of The Potato Factory and why?

    Ikie Solomon


    Any additional comments?

    This book moved into my number one position right after The Power of One.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan United States 05-28-13
    Susan United States 05-28-13 Member Since 2015
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    2
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    "One of the best books I've listened to."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

    I really did like the narrator's version where he gave voice to the various people in the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I love historical novels and this one was really good.


    Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favorite?

    Sperm Whale Sally


    Who was the most memorable character of The Potato Factory and why?

    Ike Solomon


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William EDENTON, NC, United States 05-28-13
    William EDENTON, NC, United States 05-28-13 Member Since 2015
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    "History and Fiction interwoven brilliantly"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of my favorites that blend history and character together


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mary Abacaus- one determined lady who proved she could use her brain as well or better than those who placed obstacles in her path


    Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favorite?

    Izey Soloman-I could visualize him based on the story and the narrators portrayal of him


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Pretty long, best broken down into sittings for me.


    Any additional comments?

    Very interesting to learn about the abject poverty faced by many.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GAYNOR SANDTON, South Africa 05-27-13
    GAYNOR SANDTON, South Africa 05-27-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Fantastic Book"

    Story and narration fantastic! Humphrey Bower,s powerful narration really does this wonderful story justice. Highy recommended

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristina 05-25-13
    Kristina 05-25-13
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    "A very colorful book about colourful times"

    This author was able to evoke an image of a harsh times, evil characters and dreadful misfortunes in the spirit of a good Dickens novel, and still managed to retain a sense of hope, love and loyalty for these poor people. The narration was good and I enjoyed his ability to keep the characters distinct and easily identifiable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-25-13
    05-25-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Excellent for both the history part and the story"

    An excellent portrait of the 19th era both depicting the criminal life of Dickensian London and then the new life at the Australian colony. Well intertwine real historical figures and believable fictitious characters. The narration is one of the best performance experience I had on audible

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sally 05-24-13
    sally 05-24-13 Member Since 2012
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    "LOVED, IT!"

    From any way you look at this I found this novel outstanding.The narration was exceptional , and the whole kept me hooked to listen through the night. sm

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    imulthopp New York, NY United States 05-23-13
    imulthopp New York, NY United States 05-23-13 Member Since 2009
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    57
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    "This book won me over completely ..."
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    Maybe, although there are so many great books yet to be read/heard that I almost never give books a second listen. But it's certainly one of the books that I would return to if I did.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Potato Factory?

    Unlike some of the other reviewers I've read, I enjoyed the book more and more as it moved onto the Australian continent. I also enjoyed the trial scenes, the pub scenes, the assorted low-lifes (most of the book's characters), the corrupt constables, the officious judges and unctuous lawyers, and, of course, the cameo appearance of Charles Dickens, Mr. Courtenay's literary forebear and creator of Fagin in Oliver Twist, the first fictional embodiment of the real-life Ikey Solomon, who also has a starring role in this novel.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    He's truly the perfect narrator for this book. Great characterizations and reading throughout.


    If you could take any character from The Potato Factory out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Sperm Whale Sally, although not if I had to pick up the check! She seemed like a woman of infinite good humor who could spin a good yarn or two herself.


    Any additional comments?

    I almost gave up on this book a few times near the beginning because of what seemed to me at the time to be gratuitous hardship and cruelty inflicted upon the female protagonist, Mary "Abacus." But I'm glad I stuck with the story. I'll be listening to the next book in the trilogy next.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 161-170 of 332 results PREVIOUS116171834NEXT
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  • Katie
    Ormskirk, Lancashire, United Kingdom
    3/5/09
    Overall
    "Fab!"

    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

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah
    Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom
    8/1/09
    Overall
    "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!!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Jinty
    England
    12/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Always leave a little Salt on the Bread !!!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    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 ....


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favourite?

    without a doubt " My Dear !" it is most definately.... Ikey Solomon..


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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 !"


    Any additional comments?

    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!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • KIM
    Bognor Regis, United Kingdom
    3/31/12
    Overall
    "Great Tale!"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kim
    Liestal, Switzerland
    3/28/12
    Overall
    "Absolutely brilliant"

    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?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • DARREN
    2/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    Very good story, can not wait for the next in the series. Well read by the narrator. I would recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • jens
    2/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mischievously capturing, my dear"

    Wonderful, funny, adoring and extremely well narrated.
    Some of the best character descriptions ever. Can warmly recommend this one! Gr

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Winny
    1/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing story"

    So well written. Every character comes to life. An elaborate tale told in such a simple way. I couldn't put this book down.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • richard
    11/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dickins meets EJ thompson"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Already recommended this book/audible book several times , this is a powerful well researched work , that demonstrates truth is stranger than fiction. I can only describe it as having the best aspects of Dickens and EJ Thompson . Dickens descriptive narrative and E J Thompson's superb emotional intelligence ....


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to, and why?

    Well obviously Oliver Twist.... much better and accurate personalisation of Ike rather that the politically satirically Fagin however


    Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Learning a lot about Australian History.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    In the depths of human depravity , humanity still wins through.
    Immensely enjoyable novel with superb narration painting a very powerful picture of Australian history...


    Any additional comments?

    Will definitely be listening to the next two books in the trilogy

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alicia
    10/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good listen but possibly not a good read."

    It rollicks along, but I found the characters not likeable enough - certainly initially. Courtenay depicts the underbelly of 18th century London with no saving graces from seediness, greed, manipulation and brutality and as a reader, you feel you need a palate with more colour on it. The savagery against Mary Abacus throughout makes you wonder if there's anything about women that Bryce Courtenay actually likes. He gets compared to Dickens, but Dickens's characters are far deeper and much more complex. Mary Abacus is no Esther Summerson.

    Having said that, I have bought the next in the trilogy and, perhaps like Mary Abacus, I hope for better things.

    Humphrey Bower is excellent. I am becoming quite a fan.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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