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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 (4736 )
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  •  
    S. Tongen Woodbury 10-02-13
    S. Tongen Woodbury 10-02-13 Member Since 2010

    Physician and amateur chef, Woodbury Minnesota

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    "Phenomenal"
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    Bryce Courtenay's writing. His character development and his ability to tell a story of depth and interest. I read his first novel, The Power of One, many years ago when it was first published. It stands today as one of the 10 best novels I have ever read. P.S. The movie by the same name was... well, crap. Many years have passed since I read the Power of One until I recently purchased this Audible. I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan on listening to the entire trilogy of the Soloman Family.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Potato Factory?

    When I finally learned just what the "Potato Factory" was.


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

    I have not, but must say he did a superb job of narrating the voices and the accents. He can even carry a good tune when it came to singing some of the songs featured in the book.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    A Tribute to Founding of Australia


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this book, this author, and this narrator most highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Colorado Springs 09-29-13
    Kelly Colorado Springs 09-29-13 Member Since 2016

    Reading allows me to travel through time; to visit the world's unique and stunning places. To become somebody I am not... It is glorious.

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    "Beautiful narration and story."
    Where does The Potato Factory rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is the perfect book to choose when looking for your next audio book. The narration is rich and complex and full of nuance. Mr. Bower deftly handles multiple characters and accents. Through his voice we come to know the less than perfect characters Mr. Courtenay illustrates. And we forgive them for those faults and flaws because we fall in love with them.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I cannot pick a favorite scene, but most of them involve Mary Abacus. Her tenaciousness is something that I hope to teach my daughter. Her fierce and ferocious love of her boys is how I hope others see me and my love of my children. Her intelligence makes me respect her. I find her fascinating and I overlook all of her misdeeds because I like her so much. This is something Mr Courtenay does extremely well. His treatment of Ikey Solomon is equally nimble. While he is often a despicable human being the listener will find him complicated, a bit repulsive and still appealing. In fact, by the book's end I had forgiven Ikey for all his crimes.


    Any additional comments?

    I cannot speak to the accuracy of the history in this book. My opinion is that most historical fiction is aptly named. I often learn from it, but do not rely upon the novels for the learning. Instead I allow them to lead me in my learning and I follow the novel to the primary source materials. Whether the history is accurate here may not matter -- the story is too good to pass. Read it for the stories. Read it because it is enjoyable. Then if you want to learn more of Australia's history, research it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Hanceville, AL, United States 09-23-13
    Lisa Hanceville, AL, United States 09-23-13

    Say something about yourself!

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    "Don't Expect A Fairytale"
    Any additional comments?

    This book had all the things I look for in a book that I would give a higher than normal rating to. The characters are "real" and what I mean by that is that they don't have a definitive role. Sometimes you despise a certain character and then they do something and your heart breaks for them or you see a kinder gentler side of someone who has been cruel or mean and you begin to understand why they are the way they are. Courtenay shows you the absolute cruelty that some humans are capable of and then will show you a character that has a heart of gold. I enjoyed the colorful side characters that you become totally wrapped up in as well. Sperm Whale Sally was incredibly fun. The narrator was also fantastic which always makes a book so much more enjoyable.

    To be sure this book is not for the faint of heart some of the characters are able to overcome the most desperate of circumstances and some are bound to be forever trapped by them. There is sadness, heartbreak, cruelty and hard times, but there is also great love and kindness shown by the characters. I love it when an author can make me love and understand a villain and make sure to show that a hard life is just that, hard, and rarely do people escape from those circumstances.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MM Colorado 08-28-13
    MM Colorado 08-28-13 Member Since 2005

    mom

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    "Not your typical historical fiction"
    Any additional comments?

    Kind of slow at first, and the ending was way too abrupt, but 98% of this story kept me interested and entertained. Fascinating characters, exceptionally well developed and intricate plot, and an engaging narrator. The only downside was that it was impossible to know what was historically-based and what was complete fiction.

    A fascinating account of the settlement of the Australian continent by convicts from England, including wonderful stories of the seediness of Charles Dickens' London. The main character was the real-life inspiration for Fagin in Oliver Twist.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Unni M. Berg Bahamas 08-24-13
    Unni M. Berg Bahamas 08-24-13 Member Since 2007
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    "Amazing work by an extremely skillful author"

    I've just finished book one, and I loved it. I'm in awe at what the author has created here. The descriptions are so lively, the setting so real, it feels like being present. Also the insight into the human nature, both good and bad that the author so skillfully is presenting to us is fascinating. The narrator did an awesome job too. I can't wait to start listening to book 2 and 3, and feel lucky that I didn't have to wait for them...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary 08-14-13
    Mary 08-14-13 Member Since 2011

    Tell us about yourself! I LOVE TO READ AND BE IN THE KNOW. I LIKE TO TALK TO INTELLIGENT PEOPLE.

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    "Historical approach with feminist exploited evils"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would highly recommend this audiobook to others.It shows a female who suffers insufferable vulgarity, the cause and extent of traits of men during this era. It shows the social powers of people at different economic ability. Its historical events in the story is lesson learned. Its an interesting story. I drove to Texas from North Carolina listening to this book. My trip did not seem like 21 hours of driving one way. But this story took me there!!!


    What other book might you compare The Potato Factory to and why?

    Books by Ken Follett are comparable.


    What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

    Bower can tell a story. He can tell a story throwing his voice from male to female.


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

    I do not know


    Any additional comments?

    No, I truly enjoyed the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Quilt Crazy 08-13-13
    Quilt Crazy 08-13-13 Member Since 2017
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    "It must be me."

    I couldn't get half way through the first book of this series before I quit. I must be the only one who had this problem, but I couldn't find a person in this that I was really anxious to like. The great reviews it has are all probably the real thing. I just think that it is my own personality at war with this book. I really wanted to like it, too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie Raleigh, NC 08-02-13
    Melanie Raleigh, NC 08-02-13
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    "A real gem and a pleasant surprise"
    Any additional comments?

    I was looking for a different type of book as I usually go for authors I'm familiar with who have a formula. I'm really glad I took a chance on this book. It's a work of historical fiction loosely based on the true story of Ikey Soloman who supposedly Charles Dickens modeled his Fagin character after. I've only just finished this first installment and loved it. I definitely plan on reading parts 2 and 3 of the trilogy.

    First, the author's narration was excellent. He could do a number of different dialects from a posh British accent, to various British regional dialects. His narration helped create the wonderful richness within the characters of the book.

    The strength of the book itself are the characters who are both strong and deeply flawed. This is a novel that takes place over numerous years and over many continents. The characters' lives are intertwined and full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs. If you like books with richness of characters whose lives you follow over time, then this is the book for you. I fully recommend it - you won't be disappointed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Whytock JOSHUA TREE, CA, US 07-27-13
    John Whytock JOSHUA TREE, CA, US 07-27-13 Listener Since 2008
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    "P.C. Dickens - sans endearments"
    Would you try another book from Bryce Courtenay and/or Humphrey Bower?

    No, I would not try another book by this author. The reader was adequate. Each character was despicable, including the children. I couldn't have cared less about them in the end. The author couldn't resist putting his political and spiritual perspective into the narrative instead of simply telling the story. He managed to offend me by his unfortunate stereotyping of most of the Christian institutions and characters, saving the Quakers. I don't question the authenticity of his research (mostly), only the moral conclusions and judgments regarding the economic, political and spiritual environments of the times that he felt compelled to impart to the listener through use of sarcasm and ridicule. Just tell the story, Bryce and let me draw my own conclusions.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzanne 07-26-13
    Suzanne 07-26-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Long story, but I can't wait for the next one!"

    It was fascinating. I really enjoyed all of it. Tension, history about things I didn't know much about, and lots more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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