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The Potato Factory Audiobook

The Potato Factory: The Australian Trilogy, Book 1

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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

4.4 (4411 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Peter Samford, Australia 06-20-08
    Peter Samford, Australia 06-20-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superb!!"

    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!!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa chicago, IL, USA 06-01-08
    Lisa chicago, IL, USA 06-01-08 Member Since 2006
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    "Great story"

    fascinating story with a narrator that is amazing. couldn't stop listening.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mary j aboughadareh 04-10-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Educational & Entertaining? Yes, very."

    I enjoyed this book very much. It has a good story and wonderful characters. It moves at a good pace and there were never any dull moments. This is the second book I've listened to read by Humphrey Bower. He does voices so good that between the writer's description and Bower's voice I felt I could see them clear as day. Great book!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Arlington, VA, USA 01-20-07
    Robert Arlington, VA, USA 01-20-07
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    "Great Book!"

    I really enjoyed listening to this book. It is a terrific story that grabbed me from the very beginning and I highly recommend it. The narrator is one of the best I've ever heard.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chelsea Garrison 05-18-06 Member Since 2005
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    "A must read!"

    One of the best authors of all time! The narrator, Humphrey Bower is also incredibly talented. This is one of Bryce Courteny's best. Bryce Courtenay is a writer of modern day classics. This book will have laughing, crying and engrossed from the start.
    There is a sequel and I wish audible would make it available.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil Amsterdam, Netherlands 02-02-10
    Neil Amsterdam, Netherlands 02-02-10 Member Since 2012
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    "Very Very Very Good"

    Previously, I'd listened to "Power of One" and "Tandia," both of which i'd recommend more highly than this. That being said, this is still one of the top 10 audio books i've ever heard. I was skeptical of downloading it after some bad reviews, but my hunger for more Courtenay outweighed this. I'm very glad I did. Great historical fiction with all the hallmarks of Bryce Courtenay. Memorable characters, great dialog, attention to detail, pacing, and plotting. Humphrey Bower does a stellar job with narration.

    That being said: A warning. One of the main characters, Ikey Solomon, is a problematic character, and he inhabits the very harsh world of London's criminal underbelly. Especially near the beginning there are some difficult scenes. One review referred to the 'lack of moral compass' and another to a 'whiff of antisemitism.' However, I feel strongly that the characters follow very redemptory arc and the books view of London Jews in this era is more factual than slanted. I take Ikey's interactions with several Rabbis and honest Jewish people as an example of this. Another is his latter interactions with American Jews in New York. (This, in particular, is an illuminating section) Ikey is a man who grew up fighting for survival, poor and part of a demonized minority and adapted to the situation by developing his own particular brand of moral relativism. However, it's more a character study of this man than a characterization of Jews, and Courtenay places signposts in the story to keep any alert reader aware of this fact. Ikey comes to be very likable, but it takes a long time for this to happen, nearly until the end of the book.

    However, if you're easily upset by scenes of violence and depravity or might be offended by a Jewish protagonist who fits, in many ways, the worst of Jewish stereotypes, you might want to steer clear. Otherwise, I heartily recommend The Potato Factory!

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Denver, CO, United States 12-03-07
    Sarah Denver, CO, United States 12-03-07
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    "Not for the faint of heart..."

    Let me start with what I liked about this book. It was real, in a sense. If you are sick of books where the likeable petty criminal escapes with a clever move, or the blushing virgin escapes a would-be rapist with virginity intact, you might appreciate his style.

    Also - I liked that the author agrees with the true and oft-overlooked concept that women who are victims of rape can still be functioning members of society...even successful and self-assured.

    What I couldn't take was the gratuitous cruelty he inflicts upon his characters. If you enjoy getting emotionally involved in a character's progress through the plot, then having to sit through a graphic description of gang rape after gang rape, well, so be it.

    I listen to audiobooks while I drift off to sleep, and this one gave me some pretty traumatic middle-of-the-night kicks to the head.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen L Sharkey 10-23-15
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    "Terrific"

    Wonderful book. I love the audio version. I can't wait to hear the next one. Great storytelling and characters too.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephan Goldstein 05-07-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Disappointing"

    I am certainly happy that I had the pleasure of reading the Power of One and then Tandia. The Potato Factory was highly recommended by many Audible reviewer's and by a close friend who also is a lover of books by Bruce Courtenay. My biggest problem was the fact that except for one character, for the most part the main characters were horrible people for whom you could not have much sympathy. Try as I might I simply could not give myself any reason to care about what was happening to them. I admit that the last quarter of the book was somewhat better in that regard. Also, the storyline and different significant events were so completely implausible that it was difficult to get involved. The minor stories and little anecdotes or sometimes quite interesting, but a number of them had nothing to do with the central storyline . This was certainly not the case with the earlier books. just as in the earlier books, the narrator was incredibly good.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla 05-25-13
    Prsilla 05-25-13 Member Since 2016

    Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "REALLY AWFUL REAL PEOPLE TRIUMPH IN THE END!"

    I feel for Janice in Texas who was grossed out by this book. I admit I was as well, but I am not a priss or prig or prude or born-again. As I once told a frowning intake worker, "If I lived it, you can bloody well listen to it!" As this book is based on real events, I hung in there and was so glad I did! And what a totally filthy and depraved lot these folks were back in low-life London! Thank Heaven my own Brit ancestors had nothing to do with this lot! So the early part of the book is rather like Dickens. We have high IQ, talent, dedication, cleverness, charm, and incredible double-dealing even between husband and wife. We feel for the exploited children, women forced into prostitution, a thoroughly corrupt police and legal system.

    Courtenay manages to find hope and potential and good survival energy in the most miserable people! This is the strong spiritual content the listener has to wait for! Whatever happens to them, they find courage and healing and hope to go on. I loved Mary with her ruined hands and pretty green eyes and great intelligence. Despite corruption among the authorities, she set things on a new course first when she begged to teach the orphans, and later when she confronted pilfering in a company. When most of us would just do our job and go home to supper and rest, Mary is doing even more and trying even harder. I slowly realized that Mary never was a criminal but simply a most unfortunate little girl turned woman. As to the origins of Tommo and Hawk, well, if I ever get to Australia, I will understand the people a whole lot better. They seem like Californians on the surface, but . . . not hardly!

    I had technical difficulties with Part 3 which were never solved. iRene iPod kept jamming. I would poke her tummy to reset, call audible, talk to nice people in Jamaica, only to have it happen again. Still, listening on iTunes on the computer wasn't so bad.

    And once again Humphrey Bower has done his magic with all the characters. I am still smiling, remembering his rendition of the big girl's song about the pussy!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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