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)
Of the zillions of books I have listened to this one is by far my favorite. The narrator is great. I loved reading about the real Ikey Soloman after I finished the book. I loved it so much I am ordering the other two books in the trilogy.
This is the first audiobook that I've listen to that is truly performed, not read.
Every scene with Ikey Solomon.
He is by far the best narrator I've heard in 200 books. The first I can say rises above the description "reader" to thespian.
If you love Dickens and always kind of wonder what he'd make of Australia, here you go.
I'm half way through the second book now and loving the entire series.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
I found this story of nineteenth century England and then Australia and their people to be absolutely fascinating . . . interesting, sad, maddening, disgusting, and it made me quite relieved that I do not come from the "upper crust". As downright awful as it was for the street urchins, prostitutes and pick pockets of that day and time to steal and do all the things that they did to survive, it was (and still is) much more disgusting to hear about what the well-to-do folks did, and how the religious "orphanages" operated. Brings new meaning to, "it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven." Pure evil existed and still does, but you find yourself identifying with many of the people in The Potato Factory . . . many of whom operate with a distinct set of moral code . . . even though they be prostitutes and thieves. And you begin to think, there but by the Grace of God, go I. I never knew that England sent prisoners to Australia until I listened to this audio book. Can't wait to get the next book in the trilogy.
In the course of a 23.5 hour book there are bound to be a few slow moments, but what's so surprising is that are so few. Besides the fact that Courtenay can write an action scene like nobody's business, I love the education his novels impart. He also leads you into the deepest pits of despair before springing back to the crests of elation with the skill of a master. No matter how long Courtenay's books, they are never long enough. You're in for a treat with this one as there are two more books in this amazing tale.
I hear voices. But maybe that's because there's always an Audible book in my ear.
I was too snooty to read these books for a long time. Then I started to listen to them and fell into the spell. Yes, there are better books. But, for entertainment, great characters and a world-class narrator, these are at the top of the heap. And, as a terrific bonus, I always learn something from this author. I just listened to this series over a two-week period and was completely swept into the world of Mary Abacus. Terrific summer books!
I've listened to many of Bryce Courtenay's books, and this is not one of his better ones. The ending was especially disappointing. It almost seemed as if he got tired of writing and just forced the ending.
An unashamed Audiophile who has his own studio and business called iZENEARS which brings Australian travel and history to life for locals and visitor's alike.
Why I have ignored Bryce's work for so many years I can only put down to some vague sense of snobbery after all, how could an 'Ad Man&' actually write. The Potato Factory was my first choice for I have a deep, albeit new, connection with Tasmania and the Power of One with all its associated hoopla wasn't going to do it for this cynic.
Well, I bow to a master story teller and apologies for making assumptions, at least in this book, that were totally unjustified. The astringency, pain, suffering, smells, colours, sounds were so well described that even someone devoid of imagination could have all their senses triggered through Humphrey Bower's great gift of sound acting.
I urge you to listen for if you have an interest in historical tales this one cannot disappoint you in any shape or form.
That being said, I am not sure who the sound producer was but listen closely and from time to time as your mind, ears and sense of smell dwell far away in the streets of early London or in the lowlands of Mt Wellington in Tasmania, you will hear that unique ping of someone either turning on or off a computer. Very grounding maybe but an unnecessary distraction; as audios interuptus, it rather spoiled the moment.
Wow. Quite the story. I'm sure it would have been a brutal era in which to live. (I'm glad I didn't.) Some bits very graphic but they only convey the harshness of those times. Interesting story. Narrator does an excellent job with male and female voices. Even a little singing involved. REALLY enjoyed it. Now going on to book #2 in the series.
Great story honesty, survival and triumph of wonderful people. In the true spirit of love and respect it tells of the greatness and the darkness in much of our English and Jewish ancestry. Love the work of both the author and the narrator.
This is my very first download so I agonised over the selection. Boy, did I ever get it right. Humphrey Bower is superb, characterising the voices, switching into different accents and styles so convincingly that the characters come vividly to life. The story is enthralling, more so for the wonderful descriptions of the daily life and custom of the period. A great listen!!
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