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The Potato Factory Audiobook

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.
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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 (3966 )
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4.6 (2921 )
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Performance
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  •  
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 07-05-12
    B.J. Minneapolis, MN, United States 07-05-12 Member Since 2010

    I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One fabulous series"

    I was too snooty to read these books for a long time. Then I started to listen to them and fell into the spell. Yes, there are better books. But, for entertainment, great characters and a world-class narrator, these are at the top of the heap. And, as a terrific bonus, I always learn something from this author. I just listened to this series over a two-week period and was completely swept into the world of Mary Abacus. Terrific summer books!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret San Francisco, CA USA 05-26-12
    Margaret San Francisco, CA USA 05-26-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond America, TX, United States 04-16-10
    Raymond America, TX, United States 04-16-10 Member Since 2015
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    "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 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Allison Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 01-24-10
    Allison Thousand Oaks, CA, United States 01-24-10
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    "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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mandy 11-13-08
    Mandy 11-13-08
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    "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 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Love 02-01-08
    Nancy Love 02-01-08 Member Since 2004
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    "The Best"

    Of the zillions of books I have listened to this one is by far my favorite. The narrator is great. I loved reading about the real Ikey Soloman after I finished the book. I loved it so much I am ordering the other two books in the trilogy.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard 12-18-05
    Howard 12-18-05 Listener Since 2002
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    "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 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 05-13-12
    Tango Texas 05-13-12

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

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    "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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wolfpacker Fort Mill, SC 02-04-08
    Wolfpacker Fort Mill, SC 02-04-08 Member Since 2014

    Curtis

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 09-07-13
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 09-07-13 Member Since 2013

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brutal, Triumphant, Historical Fiction"

    I found this story of nineteenth century England and then Australia and their people to be absolutely fascinating . . . interesting, sad, maddening, disgusting, and it made me quite relieved that I do not come from the "upper crust". As downright awful as it was for the street urchins, prostitutes and pick pockets of that day and time to steal and do all the things that they did to survive, it was (and still is) much more disgusting to hear about what the well-to-do folks did, and how the religious "orphanages" operated. Brings new meaning to, "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven." Pure evil existed and still does, but you find yourself identifying with many of the people in The Potato Factory . . . many of whom operate with a distinct set of moral code . . . even though they be prostitutes and thieves. And you begin to think, there but by the Grace of God, go I. I never knew that England sent prisoners to Australia until I listened to this audio book. Can't wait to get the next book in the trilogy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Hilary
    Shepton Mallet, Somerset, United Kingdom
    10/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning!"

    This is the first of a trilogy; I listened and had to buy the next two volumes. Well written, well plotted, well researched, and Humphrey Bower is rapidly becoming a serious contender for my number 1 narrator. Awesome.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Linda
    Birmingham
    9/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Victorian reality not Dickens soap opera"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    Just a brilliant story written in a compelling dialogue and narrated superbly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way the story developed drawing you further in with every page.


    What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The characters are brought to life and will now be forever as Humphrey Bower depicts them unforgettably emblazoned on my mind.


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

    I laughed out loud a number of times and wept to hear Mary's awful beating by the male clerks....so sad.


    Any additional comments?

    This book may not immediately appeal from the introductions but this is pure gold as a wonderful unforgettable read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    9/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Gripping tale"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    Yes, brilliant read (always a pleasure to listen to Humphrey Bower), brought Dickensian London to life and interesting about the prison settlements in Australia.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Funny as well as sad


    Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favourite?

    Isaac Solomon - a true Fagin


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

    Both


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • review name
    London, UK
    9/23/15
    Overall
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    Story
    "A great book"

    Loved the story. Good narrator.. interesting history written well and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Camberley, United Kingdom
    9/9/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "GOOD READ"

    Took a while to get into the story but perseverance paid off. At one point was wandering what the point of the story was but it all comes together eventually. Quite sad in places and the treatment of children and the Aboriginal people and the hypocrisy of the Church can be quite depressing. b But would recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Louise K.
    6/4/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulous, moving and Real"

    Fantastic book better listened to than read because of the fabulous narrator who brings it to life with accurate accents and creative voices for each character. absolutely loved it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Lindsey
    Coleshill, United Kingdom
    2/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful characterisation"

    Yet again BC wrote a novel that fully transports the reader to the setting...be it rather brutal in a number of places.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • J.W.GRAVES
    PETERLEE, United Kingdom
    4/1/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good historical novel with plenty of twists"
    What did you like most about The Potato Factory?

    The Potato Factory covers the period of English history when villains were readily hanged or transported to the new world of Australia or Tasmania (Van Demons Land).


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ikey, the main character is the rouge on whom Fagin could have been based, he ran a gang of young boys teaching them all the tricks they would need for a life of crime, and making profit from them at the same time, but he had his fingers in many pies, fencing and forging of bank notes, this later was his downfall


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The scramble to avoid arrest by the Bank of England officers by removing the high value printing plates from where the press is kept and as much of value that he can hide elsewhere.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • zomodo
    4/23/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An excellent trilogy, download all three"

    I loved these books, the narrator was fantastic as was the author. I cannot recommend enough

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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