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)
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
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!
This is the first audiobook that I've listen to that is truly performed, not read.
Every scene with Ikey Solomon.
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.
If you love Dickens and always kind of wonder what he'd make of Australia, here you go.
I'm half way through the second book now and loving the entire series.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
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.
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.
Glad to be part of the audible community and I hope that my reviews help to choose the right book and share my love of reading.
If you read my reviews, you will notice that I don't like predictability. Fear not! This book has so many twists and turns and is so rich in historical details, that you will not be bored, not longwinded, but transported to a rough past. This book is absolutely awesome. So well written!!! Worth the credit(s).
The richness and the details of story. History became alive. It felt like a thriller with unpredictable characters, unknown circumstances and never heard of traditions from the 1800's. Awesome descriptions. Excellent peek into human nature. What a mind!! Thanks Mr. Courtenay!
I loved the story about the "rat races" - I could not have even have come up with a plot or scheme like that!!
Humphrey Bowers is awesome - he added to the richness and the life of this book. Mr. Courtenay was the creator, yet Mr. Bowers breathed life into the narration.
I am reading second book now, and am looking forward to listen to my book every day. You won't regret the purchase.
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.
"Victorian reality not Dickens soap opera"
Just a brilliant story written in a compelling dialogue and narrated superbly.
The way the story developed drawing you further in with every page.
The characters are brought to life and will now be forever as Humphrey Bower depicts them unforgettably emblazoned on my mind.
I laughed out loud a number of times and wept to hear Mary's awful beating by the male clerks....so sad.
This book may not immediately appeal from the introductions but this is pure gold as a wonderful unforgettable read.
Yes, brilliant read (always a pleasure to listen to Humphrey Bower), brought Dickensian London to life and interesting about the prison settlements in Australia.
Funny as well as sad
Isaac Solomon - a true Fagin
"Another fantastic audio book from Bryce Courtenay."
Great story once again with remarkable characters and very well narrated by Humphrey Bower. Brilliant!
"A Master of Story Telling"
A wonderful book, masterful told.
A ripping yarn. I loved the insights into early 19th Century London. As an Aussie living in London for almost 20 years, I can understand the true intent of the word ,crepuscular that Courtenay uses to describe life in that time.
The very vivid descriptions of man's inhumanity to man is quite disturbing but real and powerful and puts life into perspective. These many sections are cleverly balanced with some very funny scenes. Sperm Whale Sally is literally larger than life and the arm wrestling part is so so funny.
Non of the impact would happen without the outstanding narration of Humphrey Bower. He deserves every accolade he gets. How he seamlessly moves from character to charter is a marvel.
A great listen
superb. Can't wait to hear the 2nd book. Thank-you bryce Courteney for your brilliant story telling.
"Brilliant in every way"
Excellent storyline, plot, outcome, research, and of course the way it was bought to life by Humphrey Bower, a master narrator.
Understanding, clarity, a sense of being right there.
Resilience, love, acceptance.
thank u bryce. u r one in a million n yr book was wonderful. cheers
"A great book"
Loved the story. Good narrator.. interesting history written well and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
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.
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