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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

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  •  
    Amazon Customer bolivia, NC, United States 06-30-13
    Amazon Customer bolivia, NC, United States 06-30-13
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    "Powerful historical, humorous, Must Have!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Has to be Mary, with Solomon a close second


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


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

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pennalie Texaco Flats 06-30-13
    Pennalie Texaco Flats 06-30-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Tragic Story - Incredible Narrator"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 06-25-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 06-25-13 Member Since 2015

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bolderdash, there is not a civilized man on Earth"

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlotte 06-23-13
    Charlotte 06-23-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A Realist View of the Time Period"
    If you could sum up The Potato Factory in three words, what would they be?

    Engaging, realistic, cruel


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

    The description of Ike's coat and the way he has everything arranged in it.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    The narration is perfect for the story.


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

    Mary, at true survivor


    Any additional comments?

    This story is most realistic for the time period; be prepared to hear the cruelty...it stays with you.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ursula 06-20-13
    Ursula 06-20-13 Member Since 2010

    Cape Town, South Africa

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    "Another great Bryce Courtenay"

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheryl Rochester Hills, MI, United States 06-20-13
    Cheryl Rochester Hills, MI, United States 06-20-13 Member Since 2011
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    "A fantastic historical read"

    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....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bridgett Gaines Sonoita, AZ USA 06-05-13
    Bridgett Gaines Sonoita, AZ USA 06-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    "I loved it!"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the top 10 of my audio book list so far.


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

    The description of the smells


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Hard to say


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

    Impossible!


    Any additional comments?

    No

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas 06-04-13
    Thomas 06-04-13 Member Since 2012

    I spend so much time driving on business trips or suffering in boring exercise. For over 40 years I dreamed of something like Audible.

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    "A Modern Day Dickens with Dickens as a Character"

    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".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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

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