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)
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.
New grandpa. Married 35 great years. Drink Batch 19,Tsing Tao, and Bohemia. Read Card, King, Hobb, Sawyer, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction.
THAT DON'T WISH HE WAS AN ENGLISHMAN. WHAT...
Every hundred books are so you come across a gem like this. This is why I continue to read and explore new authors. BC says you learn more through story then you do history books and I could not agree more. This story had well developed characters (that I did fall in love with, even though they were criminals.) an intriguing story and it is just so well written. If you read my reviews you find that I often complain about books being to long. This was over 23 hours and I loved every minute. I could have easily listened to 23 more hours.
There are three main characters, but listen to the names of some of the supporting cast; The Reamer, Tittie Smart, Sparrow Fart, Monkey Mary, Mary Abacus, Billy's Gone Queer, and Sperm Whale Sally, among others.
If you like George R. R. Martin and how he suddenly out of the blue, cuts somebody's hand off or penis, then you will like this. Some have said this is predictable, but I disagree. I did not see what was going to happen and at times when things were going to good, I would start to mentally cringe, expecting the worse, but that did not always happen either.
This first book of the trilogy is mostly about London, but they do get to Australia and the first part of the book is exceptionally good.
Bower was the perfect narrator for this, it is always great when the perfect book gets matched with the perfect narrator.
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.
Frankly I think the author has a problem. This book is just depressing. I love historical history, but like to see some good in the characters. IMHO Bryce is sick. The part in the book where one of the characters gets her hand broken but the other workers is just sick and not needed for the story. I stopped listening to this book about 4 hours in because it was just one evil person after another.
He is obsessed with suffering
I liked him
This is the 4th of Brice's books I have listened to. I like how the good guy always wins. In this book, the cruelty done to the main female character was hard to listen to. I had to run it at 2X. The horse guy dragging her son around was a bit over the top.
He does a good job at showing how stupid the old belief system really is. I am from Georgia (another penal colony) and can see parallels in racist beliefs. He shows the down side of the misapplication of social Darwinism, and how people are deeply affected by the economic and social environment they live in.
It makes me wonder what the US will be like when we reach the same point in our post industrial development.
The brutality in this book makes it my least liked one so far. I am struggling with the decision to listen to the remainder of the trilogy.
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