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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.
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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 (3766 )
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4.6 (2738 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Carlos Ohio 04-01-13
    Carlos Ohio 04-01-13 Member Since 2010

    CLW

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    "Title missleading, but a very worthwhile listen"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I rate this right up near the top.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I like how Bryce Courtenay links the different characters and ties loose ends together except at the end where it seems he left room for another story.


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

    Humphrey Bower has a great voice variety and uses them in a way that fits the characters.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I think it is a little too long for me to take in one sitting and there are some violent scenes that can be disturbing and a break is good.


    Any additional comments?

    The character descriptions are so detailed that they seem like actual persons.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 03-29-13
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 03-29-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Promising series start"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book with caution to friends. It is graphic without being particularly deep, and fairly dark. I had a hard time relating to most of the characters, with the exception of Mary... but Bryce Courtenay's sense of setting is compelling, and Humphry Bower is always a great narrator.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    The most interesting aspect of the story was Mary's life on the Destiny 2. The least interesting probably the story of the whales and whaling ships...


    Who was the most memorable character of The Potato Factory and why?

    Mary Abacus. She clawed her way up from nothing, learned to be shrewd, and found a family of sorts with Tommo and Hawk and Ikey.


    Any additional comments?

    There is not much I can add here. I am going to continue the series in the hopes that "Tommo and Hawk" will be more hopeful and less dark. The Potato Factory is a good read, with a few unnecessarily long passages and an abrupt ending... worth re-reading to pick up some of the foreshadowing I missed before.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carla Decatur, AL, United States 03-28-13
    Carla Decatur, AL, United States 03-28-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Enjoyed (Not however "Best Book of Year")"

    Loved the history. Loved the narrator. A little bit violent in a sad, sad way. But the end? It was almost as if after 600 pages (give or take) the author was done, tired and ended it with "And so they lived happily ever after". Not that I don't love a happy ending but I found the very, very end a bit weird. In a good way.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chad 03-26-13
    Chad 03-26-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding book!!"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    This was a great book!!! Up there in my top 5 all time. Keeps you entertained and not wanting to put it down. The Narration was also superb.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 03-22-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Gripping and Beautiful"

    I had no idea what to expect when starting this book, but upon finishing it this afternoon I must say this has been an adventure like no other. It feels like a trip back in time to view lives presented in such a realistic and dramatic way, I was left feeling like an exhausted time traveler! There was shocking information that I take to be truth, because of the lessons of history taught to me in school, but so realistic I felt an immediate kinship with the poor people both in England and Van Diemans land. I will have to listen to this again to be sure, like looking at a painting, to appreciate things I did not see the first time.
    This work is truly a gift to all of us.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louanne Santa Fe, NM, United States 03-20-13
    Louanne Santa Fe, NM, United States 03-20-13 Member Since 2005

    With almost 800 books in my library, I am an experienced listener. I appreciate a well written good story. I am pretty critical of trash.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "INTERESTING - GREAT HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE"

    I especially enjoyed the well researched history. I found it to be somewhat long, but don't think there is much that could be eliminated. Although much of the story had harsh aspects they were never exploited. I feel like I was treated to an entertaining history lesson. I would recommend this listen, and will find the sequels. The narration is good. There were many characters, and accents which were well differentiated. I also appreciated the pace of the narration. I find that to often be problematical. Not here.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martha Sachse, TX, United States 03-19-13
    Martha Sachse, TX, United States 03-19-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best historical fictions series"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    Yes, I think I'd discover new details with a second reading that I may have missed the first time.


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to and why?

    It's hard to compare this series to another. But if you enjoyed this, you will enjoy the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.


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

    Humphrey Bower is an amazing narrator. This may be his best performance.


    If you could rename The Potato Factory, what would you call it?

    Leave a Little Salt on the Bread.


    Any additional comments?

    This was a very entertaining book and performance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Bronte 03-16-13

    Linda

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Story and Wonderful Reader"

    Courtenay wrote a fascinating tale with wonderful characters. The reader does a wonderful job with the different voices. I had some problems getting into the book as the lives of the characters are so cruel and dismal during the first third. Those times were definitely not the "good old days." After that, I enjoyed every minute of the book. In fact, I am listening to the second book in the trilogy now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Dale Florida 03-15-13
    Deborah Dale Florida 03-15-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Narrator takes a great story and makes it awesome"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    I was captured right from the start. This is a really great story with vivid characters. I would have enjoyed reading it but the narrator takes this book and makes listening the ultimate audible experience!


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

    Ikey Solomon....


    Who was the most memorable character of The Potato Factory and why?

    Mary


    Any additional comments?

    Dont miss this one. Even if it is not what you would normally listen to....I promise you will be entertained and swept away. The second in this series is just as good!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Leonora A. Geiger-Miller Pittsgrove, NJ, US 03-12-13
    Leonora A. Geiger-Miller Pittsgrove, NJ, US 03-12-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What a Great Find!"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the top five. Not romantized..When I initially began to listen I felt as if I was listening to a modern Dickens Tale. Interestingly, Dickens is later introduced into the story as a minor character. Initially I was concerned that the book was going to be a bit too graphic for my taste but these were brutal times!


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to and why?

    Well researched looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    He brought the book to life!!!I felt the narrator performance was exquisite. He gave the characters a true voice and personality.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Actually, too long to enjoy in one sitting.I listen to audio books a lot when I drive and a true test is when I sit in the garage and listen because the story is so engaging. I did this with this book!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Katie
    Ormskirk, Lancashire, United Kingdom
    3/5/09
    Overall
    "Fab!"

    Really well read and a gripping story. I was not sure what to expect from the information on the website but I was not at all let down. I enjoyed the narration and have listened to this story several times now. It is great every time. It makes you feel as though you are actually in 19th century London.The next stories in the trilogy Tommo and Hawk and then Solomon's Song are well worth a listen also

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Sarah
    Grange-over-Sands, United Kingdom
    8/1/09
    Overall
    "Amazing, but a bit over the top and over long."

    How to give this book less than 5 stars.... I wanted to give it 1 star after the first third, but it improved about half way through to be a very enjoyable listen. Unlike his first book, The Power of One, which is one of my favourites, and also read by H. Bower, this story can't quite cope with the vast scale Courtney is trying to convey. There are about 10 books worth in the first third alone, and the characterisation suffers for it. Courtney has very strong views about people, their motives and how much they can suffer or cause others to suffer, to which he gives full reign in this book. Personally, I found him a bit too hectoring at first and I got a bit bogged down in all the terrible violence, squalor, and general depravity. If it wasn't for the wonderful reading I would have given up after hour 9. Other people listening may not mind, but I found it both very nasty and a bit dull.... however, things definately improved. By the time the characters got on the way to Oz, his story settled down to become gripping and the characters were able to grow and become likable in their own right, rather than just being vehicles for displaying the writer's considerable research.
    So, worth getting over the first third, but be prepared for lots of violence, depravity and human waste!!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Jinty
    England
    12/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Always leave a little Salt on the Bread !!!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    The wonderful enchanting characters,the locations that the story took me to, the never ending thrill of what is going to happen next to Mary, Ikey,and little Sparra - Fart !! Sigh ....


    What did you like best about this story?

    this is hard to say ,as I loved every bit of this book however on reflection perhaps it was the historical facts that Bryce weaved into his storytelling, these were an eye opener for me.


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

    without a doubt " My Dear !" it is most definately.... Ikey Solomon..


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Oh yes there were many, I didnt like what happened to Mary's Hands, the death of Sperm Whale Sally made me weep. one that I wont forget is the flogging of " Billy Gone Queer !"


    Any additional comments?

    Humphrey Bower has taken Bryce Courteney words and made them Sing .. He is so ,so ,good to listen to. i was totally captivated with his wonderful voice.. I recommend this book whole heartedly. I have started on book two and the Story goes on great!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • KIM
    Bognor Regis, United Kingdom
    3/31/12
    Overall
    "Great Tale!"

    I read the book years ago and knew that I would read it again one day and so getting it on audio was great idea!
    I loved it as much second time round and Humphrey Bower does a brilliant job with all the characters voices.
    How you come to love the main character Ikey Solomen is amazing as he is such a dirty rotten low life scoundrel! But loveable he is!
    I will get the sequel also and hopeful enjoy that as much!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Kim
    Liestal, Switzerland
    3/28/12
    Overall
    "Absolutely brilliant"

    You have to read all three (Tommo and Hawk & Solomon's Song). Fantastic story, fact and fiction beautifully brought together and the narrator Humphrey Bower gave a powerful and convincing performance. These books cannot be ignored either audio or hardcopy, they make you laugh, cry and may be enhance your knowledge of English history. Bryce's research is perfection itself, I looked up some of the references and there's no doubt of the immense amount of work that has taken place to produce these outstanding stories. If you haven't bought them yet.... what are you waiting for?

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • DARREN
    2/12/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent"

    Very good story, can not wait for the next in the series. Well read by the narrator. I would recommend.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • jens
    2/2/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mischievously capturing, my dear"

    Wonderful, funny, adoring and extremely well narrated.
    Some of the best character descriptions ever. Can warmly recommend this one! Gr

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Winny
    1/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An amazing story"

    So well written. Every character comes to life. An elaborate tale told in such a simple way. I couldn't put this book down.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • richard
    11/21/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Dickins meets EJ thompson"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Already recommended this book/audible book several times , this is a powerful well researched work , that demonstrates truth is stranger than fiction. I can only describe it as having the best aspects of Dickens and EJ Thompson . Dickens descriptive narrative and E J Thompson's superb emotional intelligence ....


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to, and why?

    Well obviously Oliver Twist.... much better and accurate personalisation of Ike rather that the politically satirically Fagin however


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

    Learning a lot about Australian History.


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

    In the depths of human depravity , humanity still wins through.
    Immensely enjoyable novel with superb narration painting a very powerful picture of Australian history...


    Any additional comments?

    Will definitely be listening to the next two books in the trilogy

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Alicia
    10/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good listen but possibly not a good read."

    It rollicks along, but I found the characters not likeable enough - certainly initially. Courtenay depicts the underbelly of 18th century London with no saving graces from seediness, greed, manipulation and brutality and as a reader, you feel you need a palate with more colour on it. The savagery against Mary Abacus throughout makes you wonder if there's anything about women that Bryce Courtenay actually likes. He gets compared to Dickens, but Dickens's characters are far deeper and much more complex. Mary Abacus is no Esther Summerson.

    Having said that, I have bought the next in the trilogy and, perhaps like Mary Abacus, I hope for better things.

    Humphrey Bower is excellent. I am becoming quite a fan.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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