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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 (4760 )
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4.6 (3661 )
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Performance
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  •  
    K. Lawson Williamsburg, VA, US 04-15-08
    K. Lawson Williamsburg, VA, US 04-15-08 Member Since 2015

    I love to listen to well-written, well-researched books. Time is too valuable to waste on anything less, not to mention our credits and $$$!

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    "At least SIX stars!"

    Bryce Courtenay and Humphrey Bower are sheer genius together. I can't imagine one without the other. Although the writing is truly extraordinary, Mr. Bower's narration makes The Potato Factory come to life for over 23 much-anticipated hours. Just the Dickensian settings and names of the characters alone are worth the read but there's SO much more. All of the listener's senses are piqued as the characters and story richly unfold. I'd actually find myself tightly closing my eyes to keep out the especially nasty parts only to realize that it's the magic of the narrator that has made them come so alive. PLEASE get this book. Enjoy each and every word. I've listened to dozens of Audible books (and read hundreds more) and this is without a doubt, the best of the best.

    36 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tango Texas 05-13-12
    Tango Texas 05-13-12

    Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.

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    "Flawed story, brilliant narration"

    There has been much debate about this book since it is fiction, but uses some characters who were real people. I didn't have much trouble with that, but I think there are some flaws in the narrative. Although it's called "The Australian Trilogy" much of this first book takes place in London and truly covers no new ground. Both the London and Australian sections of the book reflect little but the stark brutality of both settings and you get the sense that the only people on the planet in the early 19th century were criminals, prostitutes, and hypocritical aristocracy all lacking any compassion or decency. The story is gripping and I acknowledge that it is a well-told tale, but although much of the detail may be accurate, I don't think there is much of a real historical perspective to the story. In addition, although many of the characters are low class people and vulgarity in their language is in keeping with their character, it seemed to me that the vulgarity in the narrative sections (the book is written in 3rd person) was unnecessary and rather unpleasant to listen to. The book certainly held my attention but it paints such a black picture of humanity especially of the 1/2 of people who are male, that it is kind of depressing. That said, Humphrey Bower is a fabulous narrator. His style is perfect for the form of narration the book takes and he does wonderful characterizations and accents. I would recommend the book but with some caution - it is fairly dark and has several scenes of graphic violence.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dave Shingle Springs, CA, United States 05-08-11
    Dave Shingle Springs, CA, United States 05-08-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Fooled me"

    I read the reviews and bought the book. What a mistake. This book is a faded cliche version of a Charles Dickens or George Eliot novel with totally unrealistic features and characters and situations. Over done cliches and poor writing. If you like bad television you will like this book. I wasted my money. The narrator is good and this is my first bad experience with Audible. But I will be much more careful in the future. This one is a stinker

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Miller 03-20-11
    S. Miller 03-20-11
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    "Not Courtenay's Best"

    I've listened to many of Bryce Courtenay's books, and this is not one of his better ones. The ending was especially disappointing. It almost seemed as if he got tired of writing and just forced the ending.

    3 of 3 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.

    15 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond America, TX, United States 04-16-10
    Raymond America, TX, United States 04-16-10 Member Since 2017
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    "The Best of Show"

    Bryce Courtenay is probably one of the best writers of historical fiction and there is never a dull moment. He writes with one of the widest and most useful vocabularies I have heard in my 7o years!

    I listened too many of his books and he has never disappointed me as my visual imagery allows be to be right there in the thick of his pen and paper.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Margaret San Francisco, CA USA 05-26-12
    Margaret San Francisco, CA USA 05-26-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Modern Day Dickens"
    What did you love best about The Potato Factory?

    This is the first audiobook that I've listen to that is truly performed, not read.


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

    Every scene with Ikey Solomon.


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

    He is by far the best narrator I've heard in 200 books. The first I can say rises above the description "reader" to thespian.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    If you love Dickens and always kind of wonder what he'd make of Australia, here you go.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm half way through the second book now and loving the entire series.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard 12-18-05
    Howard 12-18-05 Listener Since 2002
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    "An Excellant Book!"

    This is an amazing view of the 19th Century London poor and criminal class, and their migration to Van Deimon's Land. It is also a facinating introduction to Jewish life in London at that time.

    13 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wolfpacker Fort Mill, SC 02-04-08
    Wolfpacker Fort Mill, SC 02-04-08 Member Since 2014

    Curtis

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    "Best of the Series"

    Of the series of three books, The Potato Factory is a solid 4-star while the two sequels are average 3-star books. The first book reads much like a Dickens novel especially the first half plus set in London. It is a nice story with villains you love to hate but enjoy following. The second and third installments are more formulaic and too politically correct in some ways. They are worth listening to if you want to continue the story into the next generations. The narrator is fantastic in this series.

    12 of 15 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
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  • Hilary
    Shepton Mallet, Somerset, United Kingdom
    10/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning!"

    This is the first of a trilogy; I listened and had to buy the next two volumes. Well written, well plotted, well researched, and Humphrey Bower is rapidly becoming a serious contender for my number 1 narrator. Awesome.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Linda
    Birmingham
    9/15/14
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    Story
    "Victorian reality not Dickens soap opera"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    Just a brilliant story written in a compelling dialogue and narrated superbly.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way the story developed drawing you further in with every page.


    What does Humphrey Bower bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The characters are brought to life and will now be forever as Humphrey Bower depicts them unforgettably emblazoned on my mind.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I laughed out loud a number of times and wept to hear Mary's awful beating by the male clerks....so sad.


    Any additional comments?

    This book may not immediately appeal from the introductions but this is pure gold as a wonderful unforgettable read.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Anne
    9/5/14
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    "Gripping tale"
    Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

    Yes, brilliant read (always a pleasure to listen to Humphrey Bower), brought Dickensian London to life and interesting about the prison settlements in Australia.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Funny as well as sad


    Which character – as performed by Humphrey Bower – was your favourite?

    Isaac Solomon - a true Fagin


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Both


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Diane
    Northampton, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
    6/2/17
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    "Superb Read!!"

    A real pager turner, read with such expertise. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and wish there was a sequel. The characters are absolutely brilliant & read this in less than a week, just couldn't put it down!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • PBM
    5/15/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I couldn't put it down!"

    This book came highly recommended by a friend. I must admit that neither the cover nor the title would have otherwise entice me to purchase it but I am so glad that I did and particularly in audio format. The story line is griping and full of historial facts. I can't wait to listen to the other 2 books in the series. Humphrey Bower''s performance is out of this world. The number of characters played by him is outstanding. I have previously listened to another one of his books (Shantaram) so I knew I was in for a real treat. Highly recommended .Honestly, don't think about it twice and get it :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    3/30/17
    Overall
    Performance
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    "loved it"

    I carried this book from room to room listening to it. Loved every minute and was sad to get to the end. Most heartily recommend it :)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Paul D
    Normandy, France
    11/4/16
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Dickensian tale set in London and Australia"

    Great story in the Dickensian mould. A little inconsistent in quality at times but the better parts are certainly five star. Wonderful narration.
    Almost didn't get started as the authors introduction was rather like a bad Oscar acceptance speech with the need to thank everybody incuding the dog. I rather lost the will t live and almost moved to another book but thankfully I just groaned and waited. Well worth the wait and I will certainly br reading the next instalment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • dickieL
    10/13/16
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    "Another fantastic audio book from Bryce Courtenay."

    Great story once again with remarkable characters and very well narrated by Humphrey Bower. Brilliant!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William
    London, United Kingdom
    6/19/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Master of Story Telling"

    A wonderful book, masterful told.

    A ripping yarn. I loved the insights into early 19th Century London. As an Aussie living in London for almost 20 years, I can understand the true intent of the word ,crepuscular that Courtenay uses to describe life in that time.
    The very vivid descriptions of man's inhumanity to man is quite disturbing but real and powerful and puts life into perspective. These many sections are cleverly balanced with some very funny scenes. Sperm Whale Sally is literally larger than life and the arm wrestling part is so so funny.

    Non of the impact would happen without the outstanding narration of Humphrey Bower. He deserves every accolade he gets. How he seamlessly moves from character to charter is a marvel.

    A great listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Dougie
    5/17/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Another masterpiece
    "

    superb. Can't wait to hear the 2nd book. Thank-you bryce Courteney for your brilliant story telling.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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