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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 (4846 )
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Performance
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  •  
    karen 11-30-05
    karen 11-30-05
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Best audiobook of the year!"

    If there were an audiobook award for 'best of the year', Bryce Courtney's 'The Potato Factory' would get my vote, hands down. It has everything -- a compelling story, unforgetable characters, a plot with historical authenticity, and a narrator that can't be beat.

    Scholars debate how historically accurate 'The Potato Factory' really is -- I personally knew very little about the founding of Australia, from its penal colony days, but in at least one sense, it doesn't matter. The story succeeds brilliantly, even if it were pure fiction. There is likewise debate about whether the book is anti-semitic -- as a Jew, I can't see any tinge of anti-Jewish feeling. Quite the contrary, in many instances. It's hardly a surprise that there were (and are) Jews of less than sterling character. Ikey Solomon, as portrayed by Courtney, is both lovable and dispicable, fully human and utterly fascinating. A man of his time, in a society that was very different from that which we live in today.

    Special congratulations should go to Humphrey Bower, the narrator. Through a truly Dickensian cast of characters (including a cameo from the Boz himself!) from street urchins, to upper class Brits, through every element of British and then exiled-society in Van Damiens Land, men and women, adults and children, Bower does a masterful job of portrayal. Each voice is unique, each rings true. There oughta be Academy Awards for acting jobs like this one!

    'The Potato Factory' is actually the first book of a trilogy that Courtney calls his gift to Australia. Having just finished listening to this first installment, I'm now on the hunt for the second and third books -- Audible would be doing an amazing service to its listeners if they also provided the next two. Having experienced the first, I can't imagine not wanting to hear the rest of the story as told by Courtney.

    Don't miss this classic tale. "The Potato Factory" has it all -- audiobooks just don't get any better than this.

    168 of 175 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 02-25-12
    Jan 02-25-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Powerfully told story... but a warning"

    A woven tapestry tale with the bawdy, tender, joyous and horrific. He opens the slums of London and the prisioner deportations to Tasmania to our view. You learn history in passing but more important meet characters so complex, that I felt I knew them... almost as friends who shared what they had learned from life. It is a hard book to put down, but does include a great deal of profanity, whores, multiple graphic sexual events and violence. With all the good in it, I still strongly wouldn't recommend for a teen reader or tender spirited soul.

    79 of 83 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clare Broomfield, CO, United States 04-02-12
    Clare Broomfield, CO, United States 04-02-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not for the faint of heart"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Potato Factory to be better than the print version?

    I've not read the print version.


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

    Excellent reader. He portrays the various characters well.


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

    I read quite a bit of historical fiction, but this is such a violent story, I'm not sure I'm actually glad to have read it. Not that it isn't good. It's well done. But some of the descriptions I wish I could expunge from my memory. I could have lived the rest of my life without the particularly graphic and violent visuals this author is so proficient at writing.
    I'm not naive and I am pretty tough minded, but beware. The pictures this author paints are not easily forgotten.
    I did feel the ending gave enough hope to make me want to read more of this series, but it's going to be a while.


    67 of 72 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecarol California 09-19-08
    Rebecarol California 09-19-08 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Read this Author!!"

    My biggest complaint about Bryce Courtney is...his titling! The two books I've listened to, "Brother Fish" and "The Potato Factory" are truly marvelous stories-- and I do call them stories vs. novels purposefully. Yet the titles don't entice, and these books richly deserve...to be enticing. Courtney is just an awesome storyteller, it's okay that there's predictability, a bit of cliche, a bit of platitude. Because that's just... a bit. Much more than those small bits and pieces, there is a great Courtney universe to enjoy. This particular book -- a book about the notorious "Prince of Fences," a true-life scoundrel of the gravest sort--his wife and his one-time mistress...all shipped to Australia... is incredibly rich in character development. As in "Brother Fish" Courtney has treated his female characters with the same generosity that he has his males, and once again he treats of villains and villainy in a way that doesn't demonize and doesn't border on caricature.

    I think, when I'velistened to these books that more than anything I am impressed that they're gripping, fun, marvelous stories that are written by a man of compassion-- you can feel this author's huge, gorgeous heart beating through the pages. The other thing that's interesting-- both books I've read emphasize literacy-- reading saves the characters again and again, and in fact the book jacket informs us that the author is a literacy champion. Beyond his advocacy, the works themselves are the best champions, he has written books that can truly instill the love of reading...and the desire to read more within its readers. Strong recommendation!

    52 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anonymous 02-18-06
    02-18-06
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    "always leave alittle salt on the bread"

    After listening to "The Power of one" and "Tandia" which where brilliant and signing up with audible. This was the first place I headed was to Bryce Courtenay section. I listened to "The Potato Factory. And to take one of Mr. Courtenays comments I have learnt more out of story books than history books. Being Australian and learning about the penial colonies allowed me to have a picture in my mind whilst this wonderful book was being beautifully read by Humphrey Bower. Really encapsulated it all for me and bringing me to a new level of understanding. I like others would like to know what the other 2 parts are to Mr. Courtenays gift, that he has so beautifully given Australia. The most throughtful and gracious gift. That we as a Country are the most fortunate to be the recipients of. And now the decision of what to listen to of Mr. Courtenay's next

    49 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CynNC 08-14-08
    CynNC 08-14-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A True Adventure"

    This was my very first Bryce Courtaney, had never even heard of him ... I did a search for historical fiction over 20 hours long and this was one that came up, it sounded interesting so I figured, why not .... WOW, I was hooked right away, with both the fantastic story and the awesome narrator Humphery Bower. I think it took me 2 days to finish it cause I could not put it down. As soon as it ended I downloaded the other 2 books in the trilogy, Tommo & Hawk and Solomon's song. Of course this is a fictional story but knowing that some characters are based on real people made it all the more interesting. I have gone on to download many more of Bryce Courtaney's and have never been the least bit disappointed.

    34 of 38 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lorenrw 01-17-08
    Lorenrw 01-17-08 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding listen"

    This first book of a trilogy, was as good or better than any book/books I have listned to out of the more than 120 books I have downloaded through Audible. Out of all the reviews not one listed all three books and in the order they were written. All are avialible through Aubible. This trilogy of novels contains "The Potato Factory", "Tommo & Hawk" and "Solomon's Song". In that order. Another book by the same author "Brother Fish" was outstanding. Maybe a tad better (if that is possible) than the aforementioned Trilogy.

    45 of 51 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" 06-25-13 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 01-08-13
    Janice Sugar Land, TX, United States 01-08-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Should have believed the cautionary reviews"

    Once again I have chosen a book that is very well written and perfectly read, but populated with such unappealing characters that I felt like I needed to take a shower after each listening session. The writing is compared to Dickens in several reviews, appropriately so since the main villian (supposed hero) is the real life inspiration for Fagan. In his preface the author warns us that his characters are "odious", but assures us that we will grow to love them. I did not. Did such violence and depravity really exist in that day and time? I'm sure it did. But that doesn't mean I want to be immersed in the muck. Even Dickens gave us some positive characters.

    So I will add my caution to previous unhappy reviewers: If you do not enjoy very explicitly graphic sexual (and I don't mean romantic) and violent scenes, and if making heroes of villians is not your cup of tea, then pass on this one. The only reason I am allowing a 3 star rating is in acknowledgement of the author's obvious writing skills, but it does not mean that I enjoyed his "odious" characters. I am just grateful that I did not purchase the next two volumes in the series, because I won't be reading them.

    89 of 102 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Lawson Williamsburg, VA, US 04-15-08
    K. Lawson Williamsburg, VA, US 04-15-08 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
Sort by:
  • "someoneinspace"
    6/26/17
    "nope"

    got as far as the pointless and graphic gang rape scene. no thanks, we're done.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Diane
    Northampton, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
    6/2/17
    "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
  • Paul D
    Normandy, France
    11/4/16
    "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
    Overall
    "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
    "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
  • Debbie Bram
    5/4/16
    "Brilliant in every way"
    What made the experience of listening to The Potato Factory the most enjoyable?

    Excellent storyline, plot, outcome, research, and of course the way it was bought to life by Humphrey Bower, a master narrator.


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

    Understanding, clarity, a sense of being right there.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Resilience, love, acceptance.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • gemma
    3/9/16
    "gr8"

    thank u bryce. u r one in a million n yr book was wonderful. cheers

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mette
    London, UK
    9/23/15
    "A great book"

    Loved the story. Good narrator.. interesting history written well and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Camberley, United Kingdom
    9/9/15
    "GOOD READ"

    Took a while to get into the story but perseverance paid off. At one point was wandering what the point of the story was but it all comes together eventually. Quite sad in places and the treatment of children and the Aboriginal people and the hypocrisy of the Church can be quite depressing. b But would recommend it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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