We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
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.
Regular Price:$34.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (3385 )
5 star
 (1923)
4 star
 (955)
3 star
 (295)
2 star
 (110)
1 star
 (102)
Overall
4.4 (2405 )
5 star
 (1443)
4 star
 (613)
3 star
 (199)
2 star
 (86)
1 star
 (64)
Story
4.6 (2399 )
5 star
 (1747)
4 star
 (451)
3 star
 (125)
2 star
 (38)
1 star
 (38)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 05-26-12
    Margaret Alameda, CA, United States 05-26-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    790
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    96
    73
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    118
    10
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Modern Day Dickens"
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    This is the first audiobook that I've listen to that is truly performed, not read.


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

    Every scene with Ikey Solomon.


    Have you listened to any of Humphrey Bower’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    He is by far the best narrator I've heard in 200 books. The first I can say rises above the description "reader" to thespian.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    If you love Dickens and always kind of wonder what he'd make of Australia, here you go.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm half way through the second book now and loving the entire series.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond America, TX, United States 04-16-10
    Raymond America, TX, United States 04-16-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "The Best of Show"

    Bryce Courtenay is probably one of the best writers of historical fiction and there is never a dull moment. He writes with one of the widest and most useful vocabularies I have heard in my 7o years!

    I listened too many of his books and he has never disappointed me as my visual imagery allows be to be right there in the thick of his pen and paper.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard 12-18-05
    Howard 12-18-05 Listener Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "An Excellant Book!"

    This is an amazing view of the 19th Century London poor and criminal class, and their migration to Van Deimon's Land. It is also a facinating introduction to Jewish life in London at that time.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wolfpacker Memphis, TN 02-04-08
    Wolfpacker Memphis, TN 02-04-08 Member Since 2005

    Curtis

    HELPFUL VOTES
    505
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    299
    106
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    72
    3
    Overall
    "Best of the Series"

    Of the series of three books, The Potato Factory is a solid 4-star while the two sequels are average 3-star books. The first book reads much like a Dickens novel especially the first half plus set in London. It is a nice story with villains you love to hate but enjoy following. The second and third installments are more formulaic and too politically correct in some ways. They are worth listening to if you want to continue the story into the next generations. The narrator is fantastic in this series.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 06-09-13
    Russell Keswick, ON, Canada 06-09-13 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    306
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    39
    35
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    98
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An Outstanding Story"

    This story evolves over the early 1800's and immerses you in the underbelly of London's poor and criminal classes with the notorious Ikey Solomon who was known as the Prince of Fences. It is great historical fiction based on this real life man who became the inspiration for Charles Dickens Fagin in Oliver Twist. Although this man was despicable, he was a product of the times and I actually grew a bit fond of him as he mellowed in the last years of his life in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).

    Some great fictional characters are sprinkled into this well researched book and I will let you discover them for yourself. There are some tough scenes you need to survive (I've seen some reviewers here gave up in reaction to gritty situations). It is worth it to follow the book to its uplifting end. The expression "Always leave a little salt on the bread" will forever resonate with me from this moment on.

    I would never have bought a book entitled "The Potato Factory" if a few thousand people hadn't recommended it. Even then I was reluctant. But, after reading the book, it is a perfect title. It is funny you only get and like the title after reading the book. It is something that doesn't grab you when scanning for your next audible purchase.

    Fortunately I am primed for the second title in this trilogy, "Tommo and Hawk". It makes perfect sense as a heading and I immediately bought the second book after finishing "The Potato Factory".

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Arlington, TX 02-15-13
    Phillip Arlington, TX 02-15-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    135
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    92
    33
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    32
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Breathtaking Story"

    What an amazing tale. Together with "Tommo and Hawk" and "Solomon's Song," Bryce Courtenay's Australian Trilogy is a treasure of historical fiction. Courtenay, who was an ad man for most his life, came to writing late in life. But thank God he did.

    Courtenay considered these books his love song to Australia. He immigrated there from South Africa as a boy and said Australia gave him a chance at a life he could never have hoped for in Africa.

    While the whole of the trilogy is breathtaking in it's breadth and scope, this first installment is the best of them. Ikey Solomon, a real life rogue of the London underworld, and his mistress and business partner Mary Abacus are both sentenced to the prison colony of Van Diemen's Land. From there, through many trials and tribulations, they forge a life for themselves in the newfound British colony.

    Both heartbreaking and uplifting, Courtenay's trilogy brings life to the too often neglected history of Australia. If you are a lover of history and literature, I urge you to purchase this book. The story and characters will stay with you forever.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 05-13-12
    Tango Texas 05-13-12 Member Since 2012

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1085
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    417
    124
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    237
    13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Flawed story, brilliant narration"

    There has been much debate about this book since it is fiction, but uses some characters who were real people. I didn't have much trouble with that, but I think there are some flaws in the narrative. Although it's called "The Australian Trilogy" much of this first book takes place in London and truly covers no new ground. Both the London and Australian sections of the book reflect little but the stark brutality of both settings and you get the sense that the only people on the planet in the early 19th century were criminals, prostitutes, and hypocritical aristocracy all lacking any compassion or decency. The story is gripping and I acknowledge that it is a well-told tale, but although much of the detail may be accurate, I don't think there is much of a real historical perspective to the story. In addition, although many of the characters are low class people and vulgarity in their language is in keeping with their character, it seemed to me that the vulgarity in the narrative sections (the book is written in 3rd person) was unnecessary and rather unpleasant to listen to. The book certainly held my attention but it paints such a black picture of humanity especially of the 1/2 of people who are male, that it is kind of depressing. That said, Humphrey Bower is a fabulous narrator. His style is perfect for the form of narration the book takes and he does wonderful characterizations and accents. I would recommend the book but with some caution - it is fairly dark and has several scenes of graphic violence.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Houston, TX, United States 05-16-13
    David Houston, TX, United States 05-16-13 Member Since 2008

    Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1170
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    478
    150
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    302
    14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A very good first book"

    For me this read like exactly what it is--a first book by a very talented writer. It seemed to me that Courtenay loved his material--the historical character at the center of his novel and the extraordinary age of Dickens, so colorful that only a florid and artfully circumlocuted literary style could manage to describe it. On the other hand, he never really took control of his story the way Dickens would have. The plot wanders, held hostage perhaps by the historical record which inspired it, and we wait overlong for story lines to converge and come to a head. As a result, I became impatient at times, not because the book was long but because it was diffuse.

    Along the way, however, the author delivers several wonderful, tightly constructed episodes which could hardly be improved upon for building tension and powerful effect. Mary's sea voyage as a convict, her one woman mission to find her lost son in the wilderness, and Ikey's escape from the authorities were all riveting and a joy to listen to. And Courtenay's evocation of the period and its own particular glories and cruelties is, by turns, delightful, chilling and enraging. It would be difficult to read this book without having a strong emotional response.

    Humphrey Bower's voice is simply gorgeous, (as an actor I am jealous) and he creates marvelous characters with it. He does clearly miss the occasional inflection, delivering a meaning contrary to the text in some minor way, and his unaccountable pronunciation of "boatswain" with all the letters present and accounted for was jarring, but seeing him listed as narrator for another book would make it more likely that I would buy it.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 01-24-10
    Allison Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 01-24-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    45
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Bravo."

    I found this book by mistake! I typed into Audible "New Zealand" and saw that the second book in this series had the highest ratings under my NZ search... so I took a chance and listened to all 3 books. I loved them all. I loved the history, the fictional characters, and most of all I was astounded by Humphrey Bower's AMAZING versatility in terms of accents and voices. This is a brilliant AUDIObook thanks to him. Don't get me wrong, I still would have enjoyed all three books if I had read them, but Bower's voices and accents are like nothing I have ever heard come out of one person in one audiobook.
    I LOVED the 1st & 2nd books in their own right. I liked the 3rd book, and needed to read it just to know the end of the story, and I have no regrets. Courtenay doesn't mind dragging his characters through hell and back in order to tell this historical amazing story of England, Australia, and New Zealand. Being an American who has spent significant time in all three countries I found it exciting, educational, and, do to his strong character development, I was also emotionally invested. I was devastated when characters were hurt and jubilant when something good happened to them. And this emotion was heightened due to Humphrey Bower's amazing characterizations through accent and intonations.
    Bravo, and thanks to both Courtenay and Bower for making these three books a great experience for me, and I can only say that I am sad that the saga is over.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mandy Ventura, CA, USA 11-13-08
    Mandy Ventura, CA, USA 11-13-08 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    127
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Didn't want it to end!"

    At first I wasn't sure if I should try this novel because I've just never been that interested in Australia. I'm so glad I did! I loved the experience of listening to this book. It's a wonderful story and the voices and accents are really well done by the narrator. Mary Abacus is now one of my very favorite literary characters. I downloaded the next book, Tommo and Hawk, before I even finished this one so I wouldn't have to wait to see what happens next!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 320 results PREVIOUS12332NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.