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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 (3798 )
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  •  
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 02-11-13
    Susan San Dimas, CA, United States 02-11-13 Member Since 2010

    I'm going from chapter to chapter in life. Some are definitely better than others!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worth the long listening time"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The book has many intertwining characters, which as the story progressed I wanted to learn of their next difficulty or triumph. At times it was hard to sort out, or remember, what was what and whom was benefiting or harming whom, because of the length of the book. However by the end it all made sense.


    Any additional comments?

    There were a couple of times I thought about abandoning my listen, but I'm glad I stuck it out. I may even listen to book 2 after a break.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo Balga, Australia 02-07-13
    Jo Balga, Australia 02-07-13
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    "Brilliant Story - Couldn't stop listening"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

    I cannot say whether the audio is better than the printed version as it's years ago I read the book.


    Any additional comments?

    I highlty recommend this audio book to everyone. This is the first review I have written. The audio book was hard to pause. Humphrey Bower is an amazing narrator. He covered so many different voices. I really fealt like I was there witnessing the story. I'm a Bryce Courtenay fan, so I knew I'd like the story, I had just never listened to his books on audio before. I'm hooked. If anyone asked me to recommend a book to try audio I would recommend this one. I was captivated from the very beginning right to the end. I have now downloaded Tommo & Hawk and hope it's as captivating & good narrating as the potato factory.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barb 02-07-13
    Barb 02-07-13
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    "The 1st book I read that Bryce Courtenay wrote!"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best! I really enjoyed it. There were parts that made me cry and some that made me laugh out loud too! I enjoyed a good laugh a few times when things went haywire for the characters. Great read if you enjoy reading about how things were in the 1800 in good olde England and then on to Australia. What a hard life the lower middle class led at that time. How dirty the people were, seems like they never bathe and how horrible the children were treated by the grown-ups. Still the truth is in the print when it comes to how things were. Thank you Bryce.


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

    Mary Abacus was so strong and intelligent. She would have fit in great in today's society. She overstepped her bounds in the life of olde England. She paid dearly for this and I cried for her. She is my Heroin of the trilogy.


    Any additional comments?

    I was so saddened by the passing of Bryce Courtenay. I read about his life and short fight against cancer. I have read all his books and the only one I didn't care for was "Sylvia" and that was because the orator made me cringe when she spoke. I believe that would have been a good book if read aloud by another person.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Browder Ocala, Fl USA 02-06-13
    Bill Browder Ocala, Fl USA 02-06-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Bryce Courtenay always gets five"

    Bryce Courtenay is one of my favorite writers. Very sorry to hear of his death. Every book I have read or listen too I have given five stars. Original well written entertaining with great characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda 02-05-13
    Amanda 02-05-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Fabulous, fabulous and fabulous"
    If you could sum up The Potato Factory in three words, what would they be?

    As always, Bryce Courtenay is wonderful He never ceases to amaze me.. as well, Humphrey Bower ....what a team. Wish there were more writers like this man.... everything else seems dull in comparison. I will miss his writing :(


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    margaret 02-04-13
    margaret 02-04-13 Member Since 2014
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    ", entertaining Makes you cry then laugh."
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

    Yes


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Potato Factory?

    When the twins went missing and their birth.


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

    Yes. This one was good. He is a really good reader.


    If you could take any character from The Potato Factory out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Tommo.


    Any additional comments?

    Love it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stuart Fujisaki Oak Park, California United States 02-01-13
    Stuart Fujisaki Oak Park, California United States 02-01-13 Member Since 2014

    I've been an audio book fan for years and years, since borrowing Books-on-Tape from my local library, buying cassettes from BOT, then migrating to Audible eight years ago. My audio library has become extensive. But still waiting for James Michener's work to get over here.....

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Makes me want to visit Australia"

    This book was a nice surprise. It popped up as a personal suggestion based on my past
    Audible purchases. The author wrote this historical novel almost 20 years ago as part one of a trilogy, and covered a topic I had not previously come across, I.e. the settlement of the Australian continent. The story begins in Dickens-era London, and then moves to the island today known as Tasmania, after the main characters get “transported” to the British penal colony following court convictions. Charles Dickens makes a cameo appearance as a reporter covering the trial in London, interviewing a street urchin who tells him his name is Artful Dodger. I enjoyed this book very much, and found myself really caring for the story’s characters, including some unsavory ones who battled their flaws and demons throughout. I can’t wait to start on part two of the trilogy. Good thing I bought a year's worth of credits!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne Iantorno Denver, CO, United States 01-31-13
    Suzanne Iantorno Denver, CO, United States 01-31-13
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    "Just not a fan"
    Would you try another book from Bryce Courtenay and/or Humphrey Bower?

    No.


    Has The Potato Factory turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Yes, it's just too depressing and violent.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Humphrey Bower?

    Yes.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    The violence. it's also a slow moving story.


    Any additional comments?

    NO

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josephine SAN ANSELMO, CA, United States 01-30-13
    Josephine SAN ANSELMO, CA, United States 01-30-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Too Much Male Hormones for Me"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No, it is too bigotted against religion and too full of a man's fantasy of what women want and feel.


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

    The most interesting part was the history. The least interesting was the story.


    Was The Potato Factory worth the listening time?

    Not for me. I didn't finish listening to the whole story.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Toback New York, NY 01-26-13
    A. Toback New York, NY 01-26-13 Member Since 2005

    AnnB

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Epic Story!"

    Wow! I found this book during a routine search of the Audible website. It was one of those great finds you stumble upon from time to time. The story was incredibly rich and detailed, the characters compelling (even if they weren't always likeable), and the plot pulls you in. Humphrey Bower is a top narrator--he really brings the characters to life. At the end of the book, I immediately downloaded Book 2.

    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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