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The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1 | [Bryce Courtenay]

The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1

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.
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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

4.3 (3339 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Judith Mesa, AZ 03-04-09
    Judith Mesa, AZ 03-04-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Potato Factory"

    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.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tiana Medford, MA, United States 05-31-07
    tiana Medford, MA, United States 05-31-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "good plot line but anti-semitic"

    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.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wilma 1964 HZ Heemskerk, Netherlands 04-09-07
    Wilma 1964 HZ Heemskerk, Netherlands 04-09-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    65
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    "Good story"

    I loved the story!!! A bit cruel sometimes, comic too and still a LOVE story.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Richmond, VA, United States 08-25-13
    Carol Richmond, VA, United States 08-25-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "you get what you pay for"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 06-25-13
    Jim "The Impatient" Springfield, MO, United States 06-25-13 Member Since 2010

    I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Bolderdash, there is not a civilized man on Earth"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joy Patterson, NY, United States 05-16-13
    Joy Patterson, NY, United States 05-16-13 Member Since 2011
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    "WHAT?????"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

    I never read the print version


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The main girl!!! She went though so much. She overcame it all.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Don Wonewoc, WI, United States 02-26-13
    Don Wonewoc, WI, United States 02-26-13 Member Since 2007
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    "fatal flaw"

    Excellent story, good performance, compelling writing. Too bad the extremely poor recording ruins it all.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Woodbridge, CT, United States 10-05-12
    Michael Woodbridge, CT, United States 10-05-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Poor writing"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roswatheist Dexter, New Mexico, United States 10-02-12
    Roswatheist Dexter, New Mexico, United States 10-02-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I feel like a better person."
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Too difficult to tell without giving spoilers.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    His different accents were great. Also, his rhythm and word flow made the story even more interesting.


    If you could rename The Potato Factory, what would you call it?

    It was titled well.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mark SAINT LOUIS, MO, United States 06-22-12
    mark SAINT LOUIS, MO, United States 06-22-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Very depressing"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    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.


    What was most disappointing about Bryce Courtenay’s story?

    He is obsessed with suffering


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

    I liked him


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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