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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)

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    2,928
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    1,283
  • 3 Stars
    397
  • 2 Stars
    143
  • 1 Stars
    139

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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    647
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    166
  • 2 Stars
    49
  • 1 Stars
    57

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    114
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  • Story
  • GAYNOR
  • HILTON HEAD ISLAND 29928
  • 05-27-13

Fantastic Book

Story and narration fantastic! Humphrey Bower,s powerful narration really does this wonderful story justice. Highy recommended

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A very colorful book about colourful times

This author was able to evoke an image of a harsh times, evil characters and dreadful misfortunes in the spirit of a good Dickens novel, and still managed to retain a sense of hope, love and loyalty for these poor people. The narration was good and I enjoyed his ability to keep the characters distinct and easily identifiable.

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Excellent for both the history part and the story

An excellent portrait of the 19th era both depicting the criminal life of Dickensian London and then the new life at the Australian colony. Well intertwine real historical figures and believable fictitious characters. The narration is one of the best performance experience I had on audible

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LOVED, IT!

From any way you look at this I found this novel outstanding.The narration was exceptional , and the whole kept me hooked to listen through the night. sm

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  • imulthopp
  • New York, NY United States
  • 05-23-13

This book won me over completely ...

Would you listen to The Potato Factory again? Why?

Maybe, although there are so many great books yet to be read/heard that I almost never give books a second listen. But it's certainly one of the books that I would return to if I did.

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

Unlike some of the other reviewers I've read, I enjoyed the book more and more as it moved onto the Australian continent. I also enjoyed the trial scenes, the pub scenes, the assorted low-lifes (most of the book's characters), the corrupt constables, the officious judges and unctuous lawyers, and, of course, the cameo appearance of Charles Dickens, Mr. Courtenay's literary forebear and creator of Fagin in Oliver Twist, the first fictional embodiment of the real-life Ikey Solomon, who also has a starring role in this novel.

What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

He's truly the perfect narrator for this book. Great characterizations and reading throughout.

If you could take any character from The Potato Factory out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Sperm Whale Sally, although not if I had to pick up the check! She seemed like a woman of infinite good humor who could spin a good yarn or two herself.

Any additional comments?

I almost gave up on this book a few times near the beginning because of what seemed to me at the time to be gratuitous hardship and cruelty inflicted upon the female protagonist, Mary "Abacus." But I'm glad I stuck with the story. I'll be listening to the next book in the trilogy next.

  • Overall
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  • Story

Fantastic narration!

I have never written a review before bur had to do so for this book. The story was interesting, the characters engaging, and I cannot say enough about Mr. Bower's performance. This is one of those times when I am glad I listened to rather than read the story. I was amazed by his mastery of a variety of accents and his ability to switch the tone of his voice to represent different characters. Sometimes that gets annoying or distracting and can be overly dramatic, especially when it is a male narrating a female. The only distracting thing about this book was how flawless the reader was. I am astounded.

The only reason I did not give 5 stars for the overall rating was because I felt sometimes the author went into too much detail, belaboured a point, or repeated himself. But this only happened a few times and I enjoyed listening to Mr. bower's voice so much I didn't even care!

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  • Jess
  • Cecil Hills, Australia
  • 05-22-13

A Marvel!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

Bryce Courtneys epic tale brought to life: a mastery of narration! Humphrey Bower's extensive knowledge of the different accents and his ability to give each character a distinctive voice make this book a pleasure to listen to, adding a further dimension to the print version

What did you like best about this story?

The history of Australia and the convicts who came here has never been more captivating. It leaves the reader wanting to know more about this pivotal point in English and Australian history.

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

Bower presents us with a living link to Courtney's web of intermingling characters who sometimes shock us and always endear themselves to us.His descriptions of people and places are raw, real.....

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I could have listened to this all at once!

Any additional comments?

A thoroughly enjoyable book - will definately be dowloading the entire trilogy!

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This is the best book I've "read" in ages.

Any additional comments?

Bryce Courtenay is now on my short list of favorite story tellers, alongside Patrick O'Brian, Isabel Allende, and Larry McMurtry. Lots of people can write, but it takes a special talent to weave and tell a spellbinding story. The Potato Factory is a spellbinding story.

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Finally, a book I can get INTO!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

After a few bad picks, I am thrilled to have discovered an amazing book with delicious writing and addicting story I can't put down! I am excited to see it's a trilogy because I never want it to end.

What did you like best about this story?

Rich characters, multi-line story, and reminds of my all-times favorite, Pillars of the Earth. Not in the story, but the complexity of characters and the unexpected development of their lives.

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

I am only in the middle of book 1, so I'll have to revisit this review when I am finished. But looks extremely promising!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Leanna
  • FLEMING ISLAND, FL, United States
  • 05-18-13

Wonderful Historical Story, Incredible Writing

The story and telling of it is superb. This Australian trilogy may well become a classic. Mr. Courtenay is a word-smith of the highest caliber. Mr. Bower is an excellent voice to represent this finely crafted novel. I look forward to the next books in the trilogy! Well Done.