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)
A much better story with more appealing and realistic characters
It was just one bad event after another, happening to characters who were not developed enough for me to care
Quite a few
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.
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.
Great fanatastic entertaining.
Ikey. A horrible character that you can't help falling in love with.
Ikey's escape from the law.
When Ikey helped 'Billy gone queer' by giving him a new name.
Humphrey Bower's naration bought it to life for me.
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!
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.
Enlightening, tragic, historic
Mr Bowers performance is perfect for this series. All of the trilogy comes alive with his narration
I wish the people in power would read these books. It seems to me, we are doomed to repeat the past over and over again. Will we never learn?
Good writing is more important for an audiobook experience than for conventional reading. It is harder to skim over the annoying parts, or to skip ahead if you really just want to see what happens. Here, the author chose an interesting historical setting, and had some good ideas for characters and story. But the writing is below average, and I recommend looking elsewhere.
Here are some specific criticisms:
- Phony sounding dialogue;
- Over the top, eye-roll inducing, descriptions;
- Inconsistent narrator point-of-view; sometimes in the characters' underpants (literally), sometimes a lofty historical perspective, sometimes getting sidetracked in an irrelevant crime caper, and once suggesting a recipe for the reader to try at home;
- Blatantly contrived plot devices; typical examples: (a) having characters raped and tortured for no particular reason, other than to generate sympathy; or (b) supposedly smart criminals scheme and suffer extensively trying to get a three digit safe code . . . but they don't realize that it would only take a few hours to try all 1000 combinations? (They had access, and assuming a generous 10 seconds per attempt, it would take less than 3 hours.) Not so smart.
I loved both versions. I read the novel many years ago and I loved getting to know all the characters then, but times have changed and now being a busy mum with other commitments I don't have a lot of leisure time to sit down and immerse myself in a novel. I am finding that the audible versions of my favourite books are really exciting and I can listen to them all day - driving my children around, doing my house work or on my daily walk.
Although the scene made my blood boil with anger and weep with frustration and utter devastation my favourite scene was when Mary found Hawk and rescued him from the vile disgusting mountain man.
I loved the way Mr Courtenay has captured the essence of early Australian settlement and how it came about. Old London town was a fascinating place - with the help of Mr Courtenay's detailed descriptions I felt I was there - feeling, smelling and experiencing that miserable existence of the poor. I would love to build a time machine to take me back, then come back to thank Mr Courtenay for preparing me for what I was to see and face.
The Story was historically interesting
Too many to pick just one
Each person in the story had their own voice, sometimes I forgot it was the same man reading all the characters, very well done!
All and all a great listen, mayby a bit long.
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