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 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!
This book tells of the life of two main characters, their struggles, character growth, strength and endurance through great hardship. Survival in a tough brutal life and the opportunity to start fresh in a new land. It is very well written and the narration is superb. A very entertaining journey. I have purchased the next book and will continue the story in book 2
An over the road truck driver who listens to books constantly to pass the time.
An interesting story.
Humphry Bower is an amazing character reader. He does the story justice and can sing pretty well, too.
Say something about yourself!
Full of surprises.
Isaac Simon, and his panoply of narcissistic, antisocial and paranoid character traits. Although they were modified at a glacial pace, he evolved over the course of decades, into an individual who was able to love, mourn, and lose more than a scintilla of his self-defeating character pathology. His intelligence permitted him to gain partial insight into the role that he played in the creation and influence of the vicissitudes of his life and of some of those he encountered during the course of his lifetime.
Isaac Simon's search for "Sperm Whale Sally".
Mary "Abacus", whose kindness and evolving willingness to forgive and to persevere in spite of severe, recurrent acts of cruelty, to which she was repeatedly exposed. She was willing to do almost anything in order to survive and assist those she loved.
I am planning to acquire the second book in this series, and then the third and final book in the series,
Say something about yourself!
Well written historic fiction with wonderfully highly developed characters and a world-class narrator. Courtenay does not shy away from the baser side of the criminal world, but depicts it accurately. I chanced upon this novel while looking for a good read and reading the reviews of others. This book is not for everyone and some do not like it. It is not bright and shiny feel good novel. It is a dark tale depicting human misery and a side of humanity that was prevalent in the early 1900s. The naive and poorly traveled would like to think that such aspects of the human character no longer exist in the world, or that they did not exist within the history of the United States. In the face of evil, the indomitable spirit of a few who struggle to retain their dignity and survive, provides for an outstanding tale.
I expected a story of Australia. And yet, the first third (almost) of the book is spent in London. The intrigues abounded and when I realized that much of what I read had actually happened. The story grew, the characters expanded into the most interesting people. As with many of the best audio books, the narration is so very good, reminiscent of Simon Vance's performance of David Copperfield.
I loved the characters, and how multifaceted they were. I also loved learning about New Zealand and Australia during this time.
The indomitable Mary's strength, integrity, courage and compassion in the face of incredibly difficult circumstances.
He did all of the characters voices beautifully.
When Mary saw the parrots as she first arrived and made them her talisman.
This entire series is absolutely gripping. Especially books 1 and 2. Book 3 is still good, but it diverges from the central characters and is weighed down by the first world war, losing momentum towards the end.
I've listened to a number of audio books. This is one of the better ones because of both the story and writing style and the excellent narrator.
The characters were very real; very well brought to life and given individual personalities.
Mary, for her strength and ongoing positive attitude.
This is first in a series. I have moved on to the second book, and it is even more rivetting!
He changed between characters flawlessly. Each one had a definately different and appropriate voice. Wonderful
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