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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
"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.
Yet again BC wrote a novel that fully transports the reader to the setting...be it rather brutal in a number of places.
"Good historical novel with plenty of twists"
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).
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
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.
"An excellent trilogy, download all three"
I loved these books, the narrator was fantastic as was the author. I cannot recommend enough
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