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 have never read a book by this author before, so I can tell you that this book was a complete surprise. This book is a real enigma in that it looks and starts out somewhat
low key. I expected a typical history lesson novel, but this was the most exciting involved book I have read in a long time.
There were a fair number of characters but this author managed to keep everything under control and one did not need to keep a list to remember them.
The main characters were excellent and they were all accounted for in the end and the outcome was a smash hit. Pick this book up, it's a must read and it will have you looking
out and hanging on until the end to find out what happens.
The reader did an absolutely fine job and definitely contributed to my enjoyment. I loved this book and I and would recommend it to everyone.
Selfish people survive.
It was a long, long time getting to the Potato Factory. Ikie's character developed along the way, but it took too much description to get there.
Humphrey Bower is a great reader. The story takes awhile but worth it. Really worth it. I "felt" what London was like. Then I felt the reality of what it meant to be a Criminal worthy of transportation. Can't wait for book 2.
The learned the humanity of people I initially thought of as horrible and worthless.
Mary's victory in getting the 'treasure'.
Bloody Mary - she's got chutzpah!
I can pictures the characters in my head. If I had money and could find the talent, I would turn this into a HBO Series.
Fabulous book, very graphic. Hard to put down. Excellent Reader. After reading this book I couldn't wait to read the second in the Trilogy.
Not having read the printed page, I can't say definitively. But the narrator was phenomenal!!
Mary Abacus receiving her boys.
His ability to seamlessly go between characters and his use of intonation for each character was great!
Wonderful story and terrific telling of it. Could not wait for my monthly credit to come and had to pay for the second book :)
So often the narrator can make or break a story. Humphrey Bower definitely makes this book come to life! One of the best narrators that I’ve heard. The story itself is well written and very interesting from a historical point of few. While I was entertained throughout, it felt like Bryce Courtenay took the easy way out at the end and just ended the story abruptly. That’s the main reason for the four stars instead of five. Overall an enjoyable listen.
You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend. ~Paul Sweeney
Many reviewers have compared this book to Dickens. I wasn't looking for Dickens. I was looking for a very compelling story, which this had potential to be. Unfortunately, the book headed south for me after the first half.
There are many authors who get very descriptive in the details. One of my favorites is Diana Gabaldon. She really puts you in the moment. I some how find myself imagining the sprawling meadow sprinkled with a very detailed account of some yellow flower. It adds to the experience of the book. And in this novel, buried under far too many descriptions about how each character takes their tea (and pretty much everything else), there is a really good story. I just didn't want to work that hard to find it.
I was not bothered by topics of race, religion, sex or overall very disturbing, graphic violence, but it is worth noting for those with a stronger moral reading compass than I. These things for me invoked emotion that made me vested in the characters outcome, and eventually made it possible for me to get to the end of the book.
The book did start out great. The story does pull you in rather quickly, but I can't help the feeling that the last 3 hours or so, was just fluff combined with a meandering need to complete the book. I wish the book had ended as strongly as it started.
A couple of audio specific things to consider: 1. The narrator does speak a little quicker than I was accustomed to, but I was able to adjust to the faster cadence after a few minutes. 2. The prologue goes on for a while and comes close to spoiling some of the suspense of the story. I recommend skipping it and if you haven't gotten tired of tea descriptions by the end, go back and have a listen. 3. They split the sections in really inconvenient places. It's like someone took a calculator and said, "Yep, that's a third... ." 4. It's harder to skim with audio, and this is definitely a book I would have wanted to skim over some details. 5. On the plus side, there was a bit of singing. Who doesn't like singing? 6. Was it me? Or did Ikey sometimes sound like Jack Sparrow?
This was my first time listening to a Humphrey Bower narration, and I could not be more impressed! He read this amazing tale with so much emotion and brought each character to life. Every character had their own voice, quirks, and speaking tempo. Humphrey Bower is the gold standard for narrations!
The story itself is simply excellent. Although it is quite long, it never feels to drag on - Courtenay develops each of the characters with so much depth, that you cannot help but cheer for the Despicable Isaac Solomon. Solomon and Mary Abacus make a wonderful team without falling into the typical plot lines of forcing a love story. While love is there, Courtenay stays true to the story and the desires and ambitions of his main characters. The transformation of Isaac Solomon throughout the book is fantastic - and even as he tries to move away from a life of crime and slowly becomes more human, he always remains the same, horrible person at his core. The only character I would have loved to see more of was the amazing Sperm Whale Sally.
The criticisms that the story was vulgar or racist are simply unfounded. There is certainly language, and some pretty graphic sexual scenes, they are never over the top or out of context. Everything is well written and intricately planned to develop the characters and progress the story line.
I cannot wait to start book two, as the development of Hawk's character towards the end of this book left me yearning for much more!
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