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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 (4413 )
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4.6 (3342 )
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Andrew 01-06-13
    Andrew 01-06-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Slow start, but excellent story with amazing depth"
    If you’ve listened to books by Bryce Courtenay before, how does this one compare?

    First time.


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

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    An amazing look into the life and times of old England's lower class and poor.

    This book begins slowly. This is a very long story with most of a lifetime taking place within. The conclusion is one in which I wanted to cheer out loud. Such is the connection with some of the characters and my desire to se justice and just deserts give out to all.

    I should also mention that there is a considerable amount of foul language contained within this story. The "F" bomb is dropped well over a dozen times. If you, like me, prefer a story that can be heard by the younger members of the family, without having to pause and apologize for the language, then you may want to think twice about purchasing this story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gina 01-04-13
    Gina 01-04-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Love the author, another great read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Narration was well done - I like the voices and found the reader easy to listen to and engaging. The story is amazing: great character descriptions (well developed throughout the novel), loved the evolving story line with changing settings. I loved "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay and found this novel equally well done. I can't wait to download the second book of this trilogy!!


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to and why?

    unlike most books I've read.


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

    I loved all of the narrator's performances. Mary is my favorite if I have to pick. I couldn't imagine the accent or delivery any other way. I have chosen to purchase another novel performed by Humphrey Bower based on my enjoyment of his reading of this novel


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

    Mary. she would probably make the best company as she is depicted as honest, intelligent, and resourceful.


    Any additional comments?

    every minute was engaging. must read!!!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce PALM HARBOR, FL, United States 12-11-12
    Joyce PALM HARBOR, FL, United States 12-11-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Best series I have read in a long long time."

    The story is captivating, Bryce is the king words. For the first time in a long time I did not feel I was reading at a 6th grade level. He envelopes you in his world, binds you to his people, makes you fall in love with his world. I could not stop reading or wait for the next book in the series. When you are sad to have read the last page you know the writer has done his work with the hand and mind of a work artist. Humphrey Bower is the best reader I have ever heard. He brings to life the authors intended character personality. I laughed and cried and felt the emotions of love and loss along with the anger of injustice. Well done sir.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph 11-29-12
    Joseph 11-29-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Deep, Wide, Rich and Satisfying"

    First, Humphrey Bower's performance is magnificent. Men, women, children, Irish, Scottish, Australian, British and others are all executed wonderfully.

    The story of the Potato Factory is a fantastic read. Full of interesting and complicated characters who experience joy and tragedy. After listening for nearly 24 hours, I found myself yearning for more. It is no wonder that Mr. Courtenay was such a successful author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan NY, NY, United States 11-23-12
    Susan NY, NY, United States 11-23-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    3
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    "Very poor man's Dickens"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A much better story with more appealing and realistic characters


    What could Bryce Courtenay have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    It was just one bad event after another, happening to characters who were not developed enough for me to care


    What didn’t you like about Humphrey Bower’s performance?

    boring


    What character would you cut from The Potato Factory?

    Quite a few


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry San Francisco, CA, United States 11-16-12
    Terry San Francisco, CA, United States 11-16-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Another Amazing Work from Bryce Courtenay"

    I'm biased - The Power of One is probably my favorite novel of all time. Inexplicably, it's taken me a couple decades to seek out other Courtenay novels. But now that I have done so, I couldn't be more grateful. The Potato Factory is another amazing novel. It's not for the faint of heart, just as some (all?) of his other works aren't. But it's a great story with great characters, and it's well worth a listen. And I can't imagine a better narrator for these stories than Humphrey Bower. Mr. Bower really brings the characters to life. I can't wait to listen to the follow-up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Halifax, NS, Canada 11-13-12
    Jennifer Halifax, NS, Canada 11-13-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Phenomenal Saga"

    This is an absolutely wonderful find.

    The Potato Factory is an absolutely fascinating novel mostly set in nineteenth-century London. It's a broad, sweeping epic tale of a few people in the seedy and sordid underbelly of society and the serpentine interactions of their lives.

    Ultimately everyone ends up in Australia as a result of being deported on the convict ships, but that doesn't happen until the last third of the book.

    The main characters are Ikey Solomon, a ruffian merchant, and Mary Abacus, an abused but resourceful woman who goes from being a servant to a prostitute/madam, then convict and small business owner. Ikey is largely despicable as a character, but he has some redeeming qualities. Mary is much more sympathetic. Ikey's wife and children are nasty and loathsome. There's a whole cast of secondary characters, including the band of young thievesand pickpockets Ikey has trained over the years.

    The story is indeed Dickensian, but in the best possible way. Humphrey Bower's narration is absolutely first-class and he manages to convey accents of the London slum dwellers as well as Australian accents and even a couple of American accents. He's a vocal chameleon, and his narration is part of what makes this such a fabulous story.

    The level of detail and historical description is absolutely stunning. Bryce Courtenay beings to life another age. The book is filled with interesting facts and snippets of information about things such as counterfeiting and the vaguely alarming justice ksystem which prevailed at the time.

    I didn't want this book to end, and I am going out to get the next two in the series, whether I have any credits or not. If you like sweeping sagas with wonderful character descriptions and masterful plot twists, buy this book. It won't disappoint. If I could give this book more than five stars in each category, I would.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret Australia 11-05-12
    Margaret Australia 11-05-12
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    "A fantastic read"
    If you could sum up The Potato Factory in three words, what would they be?

    Great fanatastic entertaining.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Ikey. A horrible character that you can't help falling in love with.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Ikey's escape from the law.


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

    When Ikey helped 'Billy gone queer' by giving him a new name.


    Any additional comments?

    Humphrey Bower's naration bought it to life for me.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    shark 10-29-12
    shark 10-29-12
    ratings
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    3
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    "Excellent historical novel"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this audiobook to a friend. The story is historically based which is interesting. The reader is terrific. I cannot put the MP3 down!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Randy Fairfield, OH, United States 10-11-12
    Randy Fairfield, OH, United States 10-11-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book"
    If you could sum up The Potato Factory in three words, what would they be?

    Excellent and surprising book! I didn't think I would enjoy this book, however I loved it, and grabbed me right from the first chapter.


    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
  • 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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