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 rate this right up near the top.
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.
Humphrey Bower has a great voice variety and uses them in a way that fits the characters.
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.
The character descriptions are so detailed that they seem like actual persons.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, I think I'd discover new details with a second reading that I may have missed the first time.
It's hard to compare this series to another. But if you enjoyed this, you will enjoy the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
Humphrey Bower is an amazing narrator. This may be his best performance.
Leave a Little Salt on the Bread.
This was a very entertaining book and performance.
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.
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!
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!
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!
Well researched looking forward to the next book in the trilogy.
He brought the book to life!!!I felt the narrator performance was exquisite. He gave the characters a true voice and personality.
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!
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
"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!!
"Always leave a little Salt on the Bread !!!"
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 ....
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.
without a doubt " My Dear !" it is most definately.... Ikey Solomon..
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 !"
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!!
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!
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?
Very good story, can not wait for the next in the series. Well read by the narrator. I would recommend.
"Mischievously capturing, my dear"
Wonderful, funny, adoring and extremely well narrated.
Some of the best character descriptions ever. Can warmly recommend this one! Gr
"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.
"Dickins meets EJ thompson"
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 ....
Well obviously Oliver Twist.... much better and accurate personalisation of Ike rather that the politically satirically Fagin however
Learning a lot about Australian History.
In the depths of human depravity , humanity still wins through.
Immensely enjoyable novel with superb narration painting a very powerful picture of Australian history...
Will definitely be listening to the next two books in the trilogy
"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.
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