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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 (3489 )
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4.6 (2487 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Rosemary Washington, ME, United States 07-09-12
    Rosemary Washington, ME, United States 07-09-12 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
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    Story
    "Fabulous experience"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    Everything about this whole experience was wonderful. I am already on the second book of the trilogy.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The time period and the Dickensonian feel to the novel.


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

    Ikey.


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

    The trial when Charles Dickens appears.


    Any additional comments?

    I have recommended this book to anyone who will listen to me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Portland, OR, United States 07-09-12
    Mary Portland, OR, United States 07-09-12 Member Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good time!"
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's in my top 5.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The characters are colorful and despicable, the descriptions are fun and the narrator gives great voice to the characters.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerry R. Burney Muncie, Indiana United States 06-26-12
    Jerry R. Burney Muncie, Indiana United States 06-26-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    2
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    "Absolutely Fantastic Beginning To A Great Epic!!!"

    Read the entire three book set...it is an awesome epic journey!!! I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Aussie history

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Johnstown, PA, United States 06-25-12
    Carol Johnstown, PA, United States 06-25-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    8
    7
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    "Blew me away!!!"
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    The character development by the writer. As nasty as some of them were, I felt I knew them personally.


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

    What happened to Mary Abacus immediately after getting a job.


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

    Ikey. He was a bad apple, but sometimes he stumbled onto some undeniable truths.


    Any additional comments?

    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!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Johannesburg, South Africa 06-23-12
    Janice Johannesburg, South Africa 06-23-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
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    Performance
    Story
    "I even loved the villan"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    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.


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

    This is the first Humphrey Bower performance that I'm aware of - I will seek him out in future - Brilliant!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr Clyde 06-21-12
    Mr Clyde 06-21-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    34
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    "Tremendous"

    I cant wait for more of this duo of author and reader to come out. Keep up the good work

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia Las Vegas, NV, United States 06-21-12
    Patricia Las Vegas, NV, United States 06-21-12 Member Since 2010

    Mother of 3, grandmother of 6, retired nurse and substance abuse counselor. Thrilled to have the time to read or listen to books again.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    80
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    3
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    "hard to put down"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara J. Anderson Huntington Beach, Ca 06-20-12
    Barbara J. Anderson Huntington Beach, Ca 06-20-12 Member Since 2009

    paws4me

    HELPFUL VOTES
    68
    ratings
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    164
    38
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    4
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    "Thouroughly engaging, it has stayed with me."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joni Island Park, New York, United States 06-19-12
    Joni Island Park, New York, United States 06-19-12 Member Since 2007

    New Yankee

    HELPFUL VOTES
    36
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    51
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    "glad I stuck this out"

    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...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" Olympia, WA, United States 06-11-12
    "unknown" Olympia, WA, United States 06-11-12

    Avid Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
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    10
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    0
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    "Gripping Story Part I of the Australian Trilogy"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    The narrator's aussie accent, and wonderful renditions of the characters!


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

    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.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    ALLOF IT! in all three books of the trilogy.


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

    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


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 251-260 of 321 results PREVIOUS125262733NEXT
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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
  • 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
  • Jeanette
    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!!

    1 of 1 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?

    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

    0 of 0 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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Hilary
    Shepton Mallet, Somerset, United Kingdom
    10/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Linda
    Birmingham
    9/15/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Victorian reality not Dickens soap opera"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    Just a brilliant story written in a compelling dialogue and narrated superbly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way the story developed drawing you further in with every page.


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

    The characters are brought to life and will now be forever as Humphrey Bower depicts them unforgettably emblazoned on my mind.


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

    I laughed out loud a number of times and wept to hear Mary's awful beating by the male clerks....so sad.


    Any additional comments?

    This book may not immediately appeal from the introductions but this is pure gold as a wonderful unforgettable read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    9/5/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Gripping tale"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    Yes, brilliant read (always a pleasure to listen to Humphrey Bower), brought Dickensian London to life and interesting about the prison settlements in Australia.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Funny as well as sad


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

    Isaac Solomon - a true Fagin


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

    Both


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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