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 very enjoyable read, I couldn't wait to start Tomo and Hawk! Excellent characters and an enjoyable story. I'd give it 4.5 out of 5 if I could (a five in my book is hard to get)
We simply have not been able to progress beyond the endless profanity and vulgar scenes in the first portion of the the book. So, in all honesty we do not know if this is overall good or bad...but, are very disappointed by the experience...and it has been over 6-months we still have not gotten to part two of the three downloads...too bad...
I usually enjoy Bryce Courtenay books. However, there are too many characters with no moral compass here. Reading/listening to a long story about not very nice people, gets tiresome.
This was a long story and I listened to the whole thing. The narration was wonderful and the story kept me interested enough but not enough that I wanted to read or listen to the sequel. The author starts the book by warning us that the story might come off as anti-semitic but that it's not. Well he's wrong. I thought that half the time he brought up Ikey being Jewish, it was offensive. It is one thing if other characters are making Jewish stereotypes and comments but what made this offensive is that the narrator made sweeping generalizations about what it is like to be Jewish. It was annoying and I almost stopped listening because I lost so much respect for Courteney.
I can get thru almost anything and a book on sale has now taken on a new meaning. It's on sale because it is terrible. I know my mother always warned me about this but again I relearned my lesson.
I never read the print version
The main girl!!! She went though so much. She overcame it all.
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 love historical novels! I've never read or listened to an Aussie book. The details and flow of this novel were terrific. The characters were engaging, even though most were rotten to their cores.
Too difficult to tell without giving spoilers.
His different accents were great. Also, his rhythm and word flow made the story even more interesting.
It was titled well.
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