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)
Everything about this whole experience was wonderful. I am already on the second book of the trilogy.
The time period and the Dickensonian feel to the novel.
The trial when Charles Dickens appears.
I have recommended this book to anyone who will listen to me.
It's in my top 5.
The characters are colorful and despicable, the descriptions are fun and the narrator gives great voice to the characters.
Read the entire three book set...it is an awesome epic journey!!! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Aussie history
The character development by the writer. As nasty as some of them were, I felt I knew them personally.
What happened to Mary Abacus immediately after getting a job.
Ikey. He was a bad apple, but sometimes he stumbled onto some undeniable truths.
I have just discovered Bryce Courtenay and will isten to every one of his books, especially with the knowledge that Humphrey Bower narrates them all. What a combination of talent!!
This is a masterpiece that seems to capture the essence of "the criminal class" in England and the classist ways of the ruling English in Tasmania. The colour of the characters is quite fantastic. The listener is trasnported - not only into another world - but into their grimy lives that strangely enough - are quite charming. I loved every second of the listen.
This is the first Humphrey Bower performance that I'm aware of - I will seek him out in future - Brilliant!
Mother of 3, grandmother of 6, retired nurse and substance abuse counselor. Thrilled to have the time to read or listen to books again.
Extremely well written and an engrossing story line. A bit brutal, well more than a bit and the story stays with you long after you have read it. I keep telling myself that it is a work of fiction but you still cant help but feel for the characters. Looking forward to the second book in the series, (i think) hope it is not as brutal as the first but I'm sure it will be by the reviews I've read.
The narration is good except when doing the sex scenes.
The reader was fantastic! The story was so well done and researched. A great way to enjoy history, a peek into early England. The characters were memorable, some were actually real. The leading man of larceny was indeed a character. Truly memorable.
This book was a slow start for me. It kept losing me in the beginning and let me say that the violence in this book makes it one to be approached with caution for those of the faint of heart.
Of course, what should I have expected, since the very beginning of Australia was steeped in violence. But I tell you that by the middle of this story, I was listening until 3 in the morning and in a great upswing to my health, walking a mile past my usual walk. My husband was marveling that I was willing to do the dishes and his part of the laundry just so I could keep listening.
It's a good book, just hang in there. It pays off...
The narrator's aussie accent, and wonderful renditions of the characters!
Mary's beating and destruction of her hands and the second one was when she got her talisman back aboard the convict ship-- GRIPPNG scenes of a formidable woman character-- she is wonderfully rendered.
ALLOF IT! in all three books of the trilogy.
It made me MAD! and EXHILARATED---- Mary's spirit is the one thread that runs through it all; My relationship to Ikey Solomon changed over the 3 books
READ it, READ all three books, one after the other: The Potato Factory, Tommo and Hawk, and Solomon's Song, the trip is well worth it!
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!!
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!
"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!!
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?
"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.
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
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