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)
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.
I read the reviews and bought the book. What a mistake. This book is a faded cliche version of a Charles Dickens or George Eliot novel with totally unrealistic features and characters and situations. Over done cliches and poor writing. If you like bad television you will like this book. I wasted my money. The narrator is good and this is my first bad experience with Audible. But I will be much more careful in the future. This one is a stinker
I've listened to many of Bryce Courtenay's books, and this is not one of his better ones. The ending was especially disappointing. It almost seemed as if he got tired of writing and just forced the ending.
Let me start with what I liked about this book. It was real, in a sense. If you are sick of books where the likeable petty criminal escapes with a clever move, or the blushing virgin escapes a would-be rapist with virginity intact, you might appreciate his style.
Also - I liked that the author agrees with the true and oft-overlooked concept that women who are victims of rape can still be functioning members of society...even successful and self-assured.
What I couldn't take was the gratuitous cruelty he inflicts upon his characters. If you enjoy getting emotionally involved in a character's progress through the plot, then having to sit through a graphic description of gang rape after gang rape, well, so be it.
I listen to audiobooks while I drift off to sleep, and this one gave me some pretty traumatic middle-of-the-night kicks to the head.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am certainly happy that I had the pleasure of reading the Power of One and then Tandia. The Potato Factory was highly recommended by many Audible reviewer's and by a close friend who also is a lover of books by Bruce Courtenay. My biggest problem was the fact that except for one character, for the most part the main characters were horrible people for whom you could not have much sympathy. Try as I might I simply could not give myself any reason to care about what was happening to them. I admit that the last quarter of the book was somewhat better in that regard. Also, the storyline and different significant events were so completely implausible that it was difficult to get involved. The minor stories and little anecdotes or sometimes quite interesting, but a number of them had nothing to do with the central storyline . This was certainly not the case with the earlier books. just as in the earlier books, the narrator was incredibly good.
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
"Dickensian tale set in London and Australia"
Great story in the Dickensian mould. A little inconsistent in quality at times but the better parts are certainly five star. Wonderful narration.
Almost didn't get started as the authors introduction was rather like a bad Oscar acceptance speech with the need to thank everybody incuding the dog. I rather lost the will t live and almost moved to another book but thankfully I just groaned and waited. Well worth the wait and I will certainly br reading the next instalment.
"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.
Report Inappropriate Content