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The Potato Factory Audiobook

The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1

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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

4.4 (4708 )
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4.6 (3611 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Deborah Dale Florida 03-15-13
    Deborah Dale Florida 03-15-13 Member Since 2012

    My two favorites things to do are cooking and reading. Audio books have now opened my world to books while cooking....driving.....waiting

    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
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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
  •  
    Scott Boerne, TX, United States 03-12-13
    Scott Boerne, TX, United States 03-12-13 Member Since 2016
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    "loved this book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes


    What did you like best about this story?

    all the characters


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    his different voices for the characters made them recognizable and ability to speak as in the time of the story, excellent job


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    twincity 03-11-13
    twincity 03-11-13 Listener Since 2010
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    "A great listen!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    Narration was perfect, nothing boring hearing the great vocabulary.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It has been a while since I have listened to such a great story that also educated me about the era and the process of the English getting deported to Australia and the struggles once there. It is such a well written book, so different from the authors pushing out a new one each year.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I cannot think of many scenes that were not my favorite -the lives of Ike, Bob Marley, the two Marys and even Ann Gower. There is so much woven into it.

    The formation of the characters has been done superbly.


    Any additional comments?

    This is my favorite listen since Cutting for Stone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Prince Albert, South Africa 03-11-13
    Barbara Prince Albert, South Africa 03-11-13
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    "A well written and performed informative book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, well written, informative with colourful characters and brilliantly read.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Mary Abacus, I felt sorry for her but admired her determination


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    Hoe he changed with every character,


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

    When Mary tried to find employment as a clark.


    Any additional comments?

    I am now reading Tommo and Hawk

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Hinchinbrook, Australia 03-11-13
    John Hinchinbrook, Australia 03-11-13 Member Since 2013

    Avid reader and audio book listener

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    "Great story of Australian History"

    Well worth the listen, provides a live history by way of interesting characters. I will certainly look for more of Bryce Courtney's work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julie perth, Australia 03-09-13
    julie perth, Australia 03-09-13
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    "BE WARNED CONTAINS OBSCENE LANGUAGE"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a great story, its adventurous and riveting but contains some very graphic violent portrayals of life as it was. Set in the late 1800's it starts in England when some of the most brutal behaviour against women and the poor was committed. I listened to this one day and couldn't eat my lunch as a result! I was shocked and appalled at the reality of it.None the less I have continued with the series and am now onto Tommo and Hawk. if you can handle the obscenities and the graphic violence, the story is fantastic. Well done by the reader and overall well worth the Listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The Characters are unforgettable and I wonder if it will ever be made into a movie series?
    It would be a visual feast with the locations involved... that said, the film maker would have to go carefully with some of the worst violent parts.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    oscar de vries 03-04-13
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    "Supperbly written. I hated to see it end."
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    While the story line and presenter were great I also loved the history lesson I got. I have a greater knowledge now of life during that time period as well as the history of the Australian penal colonies.Oscar DeVries


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main player of the story.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 03-04-13
    Mary 03-04-13
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    "caught my imagination"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book. It really caught my imagination and I got to know the characters very well. Thought it ended quite suddenly, though.


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

    no, it's too long for that


    Any additional comments?

    it's a time and place that I didn't know much about. Well written

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eddie38 02-27-13
    Eddie38 02-27-13

    Eddie is an avid listener of all sorts of audio books. He is a voracious reader AND listener. Not just best sellers, he likes to experiment.

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    "TERRIFIC NARRATION"
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    The narration was top shelf.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ike Solomon --- the narration captured such a distinct character that I was compelled to care about this person who was so flawed. But I really feel as if I know him.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    His ability to capture the author's language and to distinctly provide EACH character with his or her own persona (and never faltering from it) made his reading absolutely wonderful. I had never listened to a Humphrey Bower read before but I have got to say --- he is a storyteller with immense talent.


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

    Mary. I just want her to have one perfect day in her life.


    Any additional comments?

    I am looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • 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
    Wiltshire
    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
  • A User
    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
  • WCE
    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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