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)
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!
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.
My taste vary. I love a good, blood stained horror, but also a well written kids story. Lots of Sci-Fi, but also Hist. Fiction. No boring!!!
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.
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