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)
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This book had all the things I look for in a book that I would give a higher than normal rating to. The characters are "real" and what I mean by that is that they don't have a definitive role. Sometimes you despise a certain character and then they do something and your heart breaks for them or you see a kinder gentler side of someone who has been cruel or mean and you begin to understand why they are the way they are. Courtenay shows you the absolute cruelty that some humans are capable of and then will show you a character that has a heart of gold. I enjoyed the colorful side characters that you become totally wrapped up in as well. Sperm Whale Sally was incredibly fun. The narrator was also fantastic which always makes a book so much more enjoyable.
To be sure this book is not for the faint of heart some of the characters are able to overcome the most desperate of circumstances and some are bound to be forever trapped by them. There is sadness, heartbreak, cruelty and hard times, but there is also great love and kindness shown by the characters. I love it when an author can make me love and understand a villain and make sure to show that a hard life is just that, hard, and rarely do people escape from those circumstances.
Kind of slow at first, and the ending was way too abrupt, but 98% of this story kept me interested and entertained. Fascinating characters, exceptionally well developed and intricate plot, and an engaging narrator. The only downside was that it was impossible to know what was historically-based and what was complete fiction.
A fascinating account of the settlement of the Australian continent by convicts from England, including wonderful stories of the seediness of Charles Dickens' London. The main character was the real-life inspiration for Fagin in Oliver Twist.
I've just finished book one, and I loved it. I'm in awe at what the author has created here. The descriptions are so lively, the setting so real, it feels like being present. Also the insight into the human nature, both good and bad that the author so skillfully is presenting to us is fascinating. The narrator did an awesome job too. I can't wait to start listening to book 2 and 3, and feel lucky that I didn't have to wait for them...
Tell us about yourself! I LOVE TO READ AND BE IN THE KNOW. I LIKE TO TALK TO INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.
I would highly recommend this audiobook to others.It shows a female who suffers insufferable vulgarity, the cause and extent of traits of men during this era. It shows the social powers of people at different economic ability. Its historical events in the story is lesson learned. Its an interesting story. I drove to Texas from North Carolina listening to this book. My trip did not seem like 21 hours of driving one way. But this story took me there!!!
Books by Ken Follett are comparable.
Bower can tell a story. He can tell a story throwing his voice from male to female.
I do not know
No, I truly enjoyed the story.
I couldn't get half way through the first book of this series before I quit. I must be the only one who had this problem, but I couldn't find a person in this that I was really anxious to like. The great reviews it has are all probably the real thing. I just think that it is my own personality at war with this book. I really wanted to like it, too.
I was looking for a different type of book as I usually go for authors I'm familiar with who have a formula. I'm really glad I took a chance on this book. It's a work of historical fiction loosely based on the true story of Ikey Soloman who supposedly Charles Dickens modeled his Fagin character after. I've only just finished this first installment and loved it. I definitely plan on reading parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.
First, the author's narration was excellent. He could do a number of different dialects from a posh British accent, to various British regional dialects. His narration helped create the wonderful richness within the characters of the book.
The strength of the book itself are the characters who are both strong and deeply flawed. This is a novel that takes place over numerous years and over many continents. The characters' lives are intertwined and full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. If you like books with richness of characters whose lives you follow over time, then this is the book for you. I fully recommend it - you won't be disappointed.
No, I would not try another book by this author. The reader was adequate. Each character was despicable, including the children. I couldn't have cared less about them in the end. The author couldn't resist putting his political and spiritual perspective into the narrative instead of simply telling the story. He managed to offend me by his unfortunate stereotyping of most of the Christian institutions and characters, saving the Quakers. I don't question the authenticity of his research (mostly), only the moral conclusions and judgments regarding the economic, political and spiritual environments of the times that he felt compelled to impart to the listener through use of sarcasm and ridicule. Just tell the story, Bryce and let me draw my own conclusions.
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.
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