Read The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay Online


Ikey Solomon is very successful indeed, in the art of thieving. 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 19th century London to Van Diemens Land. In the backstreets and dives of Hobart Town, Mary learns the art of brewing and builds The Potato Factory, whereIkey Solomon is very successful indeed, in the art of thieving. 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 19th century London to Van Diemens 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. As each woman sets out to destroy the other, the families are brought to the edge of disaster....

Title : The Potato Factory
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780749322632
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 739 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Potato Factory Reviews

  • Marissa
    2019-03-24 17:31

    Holy hell! This is one damn good book. Bryce Courtenay still amazes me in his level of research comparable to only authors such as Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte. It deals with the populating of the British colonies in Australia, Tasmaina, and New Zealand. While the accuracy of detail is impeccable, his skill as a storyteller is what keeps me hooked on ordering his books from Australia. Good God, I hope this man lives forever and keeps writing! Thank goodness that it is one book in a series of 3. I was devastated by the end of Peekay's story in South Africa but being shipped from England's slums to Tasmania for the past few months has been a journey never to forget. Definately a keeper on my favorites shelves!!!

  • Richard Philbrick
    2019-04-19 19:20

    I "read" this as a download from Humphrey Bower is an exceptional narrator effortlessly giving each character their own distinct voice. I was enthralled with Courtenay's writing and Bower's narration. I don't know if I'd give it five stars as a print book or not, but I recommend it as an audible book to anyone.

  • Velvetink
    2019-03-29 22:12

    ** donated to CCU 30/10/2014review finally!.Ikey Solomon and his partner in crime, Mary Abacus, 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 builds The Potato Factory - a brewery, where she plans a new future. But her ambitions are threatened by Ikey's wife, Hannah, her old enemy. As each woman sets out to destroy the other, the families are brought to the edge of disaster.The characters Ikey, Mary and Hannah (Ikey's wife) were documented real people & some of the other characters in Tasmania are based on real historical people. Although Ikey's character is partially based on Fagin ( from Dicken's Oliver Twist) it's interesting just how much Courtenay has borrowed of Dicken's Twist to flesh out Ikey's London years particularly with his apprentice thieves. This is the first Courtneay book I've read. It's faced paced generally and keeps you hooked though a few chapters here and there dragged -although interesting & possibly historically close to actual reality of the early whalers, the point was long in coming eg. the chapter about Blue Whale Sally. Here and there I was annoyed at some of Courtenay's descriptions of our particular Australian things such as daub and wattle huts. They felt like they were lifted out of the wikipedia, awkward and jarring compared to the dialogue. This may be because Courtneay is not Australian, Or ? felt the international reader needed that type of stilted information. Normally when I come across a term or phrase I am not familiar with in a book I look it up myself...I don't need the author to give an encyclopedic explanation midstream -that only works if two characters are speaking or there is a constant omnipresent narrator which I don't feel is present here. ( a glossary at the end - is more acceptable). My other complaint is while Ikey is mostly billed as the main character, when he dies 3/4 way through, it's announced in a letter and the reader is wondering how and while there are two books in this series following this one, it seems odd he is so suddenly out of the picture. The real heroine of the book is Mary in my opinion, and it is she who achieves some greatness & transformation in the course of the story. I felt for her from the beginning, while Ikey was a little harder to understand, though I came to love him too with his penchant for liking many pockets in his coats. Those who have no knowledge of convict times in Australia will find the conditions & punishments harsh. While I've read accounts before of conditions on the transport ships and of the lashings, beatings and meagre food rations and the inhumanity of The Female Factory orphans, it still shocks me. Makes you wonder sometimes how our Aussie psyche evolved into a "she'll be right mate" attitude. There are several good quotes in the book, two I listed below - if I have time will find the others.(wireless router laterScore! 50c today op shop find.There was an Australian mini series made of this book with Lisa McClune which I missed probably for the better since many down under mini series end up seeming the same, particular period ones. "When the poor embrace the tenants of morality it comes ready-made with misery as it's constant companion"...."it is not the nature of things to remain calm. Contentment is always a summer to be counted in brief snatches of sunlight while unhappiness is an endless winter season of dark and stormy weather".loaned to pop

  • M.j. Croan
    2019-04-11 21:31

    ‘The Potato Factory’ by Bryce Courtnay.This excellent novel sat on my bookshelf for some months before I finally got around to reading it. I am not sure why, perhaps it was the title that did not strike the right cords. I even picked it up a couple of times, but dismissed it. What an oversight that was.'The Potato Factory' is a journey back in time to Dickensian London and all the filth and squalor that inspired Charles Dickens to pen his many novels, and in particular ‘Oliver Twist’.Although written as a work of fiction, the author chose this route to publication only as a method of filling out the bare facts as recorded in historical periodicals of the time, both here and in Van Demons Land. As a work of fiction he was also afforded the luxury of adding some excellent dialogue.The central character in this true tale is Ikey Solomon whom most readers will recognise as ‘Fagan’ from ‘Oliver Twist.’ This was no coincidence, as he was the inspiration behind this well-known classic, as were many other colourful characters, such as Sparrow Fart ( The Artful Dodger,) and Bob Marley (Bill Sykes.) Other Characters include ‘Sperm Whale Sally’ and ‘Billygonequeer’. Charles Dickens himself is reputed to have interview Sparrow Fart in his capacity as a young reporter after the well-documented escape from Newgate prison and trial of Ikey Solomon at the old bailey.With such a cast this is a hard book to put down. In a society where petty criminals could be hanged or transported for merely picking a pocket, or prostitution, the reader will cringe at the cruelty and hypocrisy of the so called law and aristocracy.The second half of this book is set in Van Demons Land (Now Tasmania,) but to find out how our immigrants fare you are just going to have to read it for yourself.Fascinating in its detail of real characters and actual events, and consuming in its prose. ‘The Potato Factory.’

  • Teresa
    2019-03-25 15:07

    I'm a bit undecided with The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay. Yes, there's no doubt that Bryce Courtenay is a great writer. He has the ability to make you believe that you are experiencing the same things with the characters whether its in the streets of 19th century London or the colonial outpost that was Van Damien Island and even projecting sympathy towards the lowest scums of English society. Also, the way he sets up the background of the story is nothing short of perfect, you know each detail has been meticulously researched it was almost like I was reading a very interesting history book about how people lived in that time. I was there, I bought the story however after the first quarter of the novel I started to have an ominous feeling that I wasn't going to love this book. Boredom came first; Courtenay tended to repeat and rattle on about unnecessary facts explaining every minute detail. Although at times it is interesting, it does get annoying after a while hence the next dilemma. I started to get annoyed that the story was never going to finish because it kept diverting into these other random facts and story lines. There was a point that I really felt that I was reading a completely different book! I understand that there was a next chapter to the story however I believe that Courtenay should have just finished telling the story between Ikey, Mary and Hannah before he dives into the next book. Furthermore, the ending seemed abrupt and rushed like he realised he run out of time or any more paper.Although the next book does seem interesting, the book was a disappointment especially since it had so much potential in the beginning.

  • Erika
    2019-03-21 15:15

    First - I loved this book. After starting it on vacation (it was the only book at the rental home on the beach where we were) I had to find the others in this series. The storyline was so fascinating to me as a look into the lives of the poor and downtrodden - prisoners sent from Britain to Australia. Because of the people involved the language is very course and I wouldn't recommend it to people who are offended by such. I don't believe it is filthy for the sake of filth, but if this were a movie it would be R for sure. For me it was almost like reading in another language, a vernacular of our own, but even though I can't stand to watch movies with lots of swearing, this book didn't bother me. Not sure why, but it just seemed raw and true. I was enthralled with the lives of the characters and the human trials they endured.

  • Blaine DeSantis
    2019-04-19 23:10

    Loved this book! This is now the 3rd book I have read by the author and I plan to read more. The first I had read was "The Power of One" which is a truly marvelous book, after that I read "The Persimmon Tree" which was a slow and plodding disappointment to me. And so I came to this book on my Kindle and had no idea what to expect. What I got was a book that held my rapt attention, a book that was a super fast and interesting read, a book that includes two characters that also appear in Charles Dickens book Oliver Twist, and a whole lot of really great history on England, the British legal and penal systen, and Van Diemen's Land, which is now known as Tasmania.We follow the fortunes of Ikey Solomon (Fagin), a young street urchin in London (The Artful Dodger), Bob Marley, Ikey's estranged and vengeful wife Hannah and her children, Mary Abacas who is truly Ikey's love of his life and who turns from prostitute to business woman when her fortunes turn, and one of the great characters I have ever come across who is eventually known as Sperm Whale Sally!This is an eventful book that follows the fortunes and misfortunes of Ikey and how he gets in and out of trouble, along with the journey of Mary who is a mathematical whiz with the device that gives her her last name. We follow them through all sorts of adventures in London and then when they all eventually are banished to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, and how this trio act and sometimes interact on the island. It is a wonderful read and is the first of a trilogy, the second being Tommo and Hawk, and for me this was a wonderful and enjoyable read.

  • Alena
    2019-04-12 18:09

    It took me a few months to get through this audiobook and every now and again I had to stop listening because it was just too much: the violence, the poverty, the lack of compassion. Yet I would always pick it up again, keen to find out what happens next, because throughout the story there is a glimmer of hope in its characters' grit, their will to survive and find peace, however short lived. Bryce Courtenay is an impressive storyteller who is sometimes ruthless to his readers while describing the realities of life in the poverty-stricken London and Van Diemen's land (Tasmania). He is far from subtle but he also makes it impossible to stay cold and disinterested in the fate of his characters.

  • Jan
    2019-04-20 23:14

    This is the first in the Australian trilogy:1.The Potato Factory2.Tommo & Hawk3.Solomon's SongI was hooked after the first chapter!Bryce Courtenay is noted for his ability to weave dramatic, graphic, human stories with historic fact. He did not disappoint with this book. I could not put it down. We meet Ikey, Hannah and Mary in 1820's England.. "dark times, bleak times, hard times". They survive in the under belly of English society. Their lives and their stories are woven together..Deemed criminals by English courts, they all end up in the penal colony in Van Diemen's Land (Australia). Here the paths their lives take continue to cross.. We cheer for Mary, hate Hannah and always wonder about Ikey. As the last chapter in this book comes to a close, Mary and her two sons, Tommo and Hawk,reunited after horrific events, have finally acquired the financial means to move forward, and upward, in society, as a family and in the legal business world. Looking forward to starting book #2 in the Trilogy: Tommo & Hawk.

  • Charles
    2019-04-10 15:11

    This book has the quality of a folk legend re-imagined. The characters loom larger than life and protagonists endure years of the worst kinds of suffering before triumphing over their oppressors. The first half of this novel, set in nineteenth century London, is slowly-paced, but packed with eccentric, Dickensian characters, complete with dialect. The very eventful second half takes place mostly in Australia during its penal colony days, as the feud that boils for over 700 pages comes to a head. The ambitious scope of the story is realized with solidly-crafted prose and compelling characters. Though some of these characters come uncomfortably close to stereotypes, the feeling that the story was being shared with me by an eccentric uncle made this feel okay somehow.

  • Natalie
    2019-03-24 21:29

    Set in the early 19th century, THE POTATO FACTORY explores the lives of London's thieves, con men, prostitutes, street urchins and lowlife who, suffering from England's social and political inequalities, are sent to the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania). This Dickensian tale with larger-than-life characters and plenty of pulp is not for the fainthearted as master storyteller Bryce Courtenay spares no sordid or salacious detail. I loved the book but at 852 pages found it to be overly long. Like all good storytellers, Courtenay digresses, occasionally going into way too much detail without necessarily furthering the plot or providing additional insight into the characters.

  • Nadine May
    2019-04-03 23:17

    What an altogether roller coaster journey about London during the early and mid 18 hundreds. I knew that 'life' during those times was rather terrible for the lower class of the population, but how vividly 'poverty' is described - in a Charles Dickens style - leave little to the imagination of the reader. The Potato Factory was a very good read and again my admiration for Bryce's detail in describing human misery to its fullest. I never knew that Tasmania was a destination for convicts, I knew about Australia yes, but this story added a whole new meaning to human suffering and the triumph of the human spirit never to give up!

  • David
    2019-03-22 21:13

    Listened to on my IPod. Amazing Narration with Humphrey Bower doing many dialects with great skill. The story is about Fagan, the "villain" from Oliver, who is a real life character who Dickens used to tell the story of the young thieves. Much of the story takes place in Australia after his deportment for his crimes.

  • Jeanene Palmer
    2019-04-12 17:14

    I listened to the audiobook of 23 hours. Fabulous! This book took the author 20 years to write due to research and accuracy. The story is based on true individuals of Ikey Solomon and Mary Sparrow who were convicts and sent to Australia to serve their sentences. MR. Cannon did a wonderful job telling their stories of street debauchery and Ikey's life of crime and Mary's good nature and tenacity to overcome society's views of criminals and women. The actor who read was superb! This is the first book of a trilogy and I'm looking forward to reading more of the Solomon's story.

  • Gillian Murrell
    2019-04-21 17:08

    This was my first Bryce Courtenay book and if the others are anything like this it will not be my last. The amount of research that must have went into this story is amazing. The story follows the journey of one Ikey Solomon. Ikey's journey starts in England and eventually ends in Tasmania. Along the way we meet many loveable character and some we love to hate mainly Ikey's wife Hannah. Mary Abacus as she is come to be know, due to her use of the abacus is a stand out character throughout the entire story. It is Mary's idea to make beer that we get the name The Potato Factory from.

  • Book Hunter
    2019-04-03 20:18

    This is a historical fiction about the most notorious criminal in England in the early 1800's and his exile to Australia. It reads to me like a Dickens novel, set in the same time period. I've never actually read any other books that tell the story of how Australia was settled and how the convicts were brought here and treated once they arrived. The first half of the book is wordy, slow and hard to read. And only at the halfway point it gradually accelerates. So I doubt very much whether I’ll pick up the next two books in the trilogy. This one was good, but not that good.

  • Deyanne
    2019-03-29 20:13

    Lately I have been on a Bryce Courtenay reading marathon. After just finishing April Fool's Day I wanted to read more from this author that has touched my life, particularly with his first novel The Power of One. That is definitely "absolutal" on my favorite list. In the preface to this novel Courtney writes: "These were dark times, bleak times, hard times, times where a poor man's life was regarded as less valuable than that of a pig, a poor Jew's far less valuable even than that. That Ikey Solomon's life could have happened as it did in fact, allows my fiction to exploit the ability of the human spirit to transcend the vile tyranny of which humankind has proved so consistently capable. In these terms Ikey Solomon was a real-life hero and my fiction cannot possibly do him justice."I realized after reading this that I was in for quite the experience of a fictional account of "Fagan" from Dicken's Oliver Twist. I was somewhat prepared for filth and squalor and it definitely was in abundance.Bryce Courtenay is an impressive researcher, and little did I know how much I didn't know. I was transported from London which is part one in the book to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania). This was a first experience for me reading about England's penal colony. I was engaged in the story. Many of the characters are absolutely reprehensible and I must confess that the sordid and sagacious details were taxing. I questioned why he included certain "lurid" details that I didn't think enhanced the story line and the book would have been better without them. However, with that said, Courtney had reeled me in and I wanted to finish and know what he designed for these characters (which are rich and remind me so much of Dicken's masterful ability to create "forever" literary heroes and villains). There are some poignant sections that will stay with me. Not wanting to write any spoilers, just let me say that "hands" hold great significance for me with this book. Helping hands, hurting hands, stealing hands, loving hands, deformed hands - they are all there.By the time I was seven hundred pages into this novel, I was ready to be "free" from all of the injustice and political corruption. I wish it had been shorter. While I will read the next book (by the way this novel and it's sequel are the two best sellers in Australia I read), I need a break away from squalor and filth for awhile.I was surprised at the distinct similarities between Bryce Courtenayand Jeffrey Archer. Neither popular and prolific author started writing until they were in their fifties. There are numerous similarities and in some remote ways this novel reminded me of Kane and Abel. Sixteen hundred pages plus pages say that I do like this author's style and ability. The Power of One remains my favorite (unquestionably) and I would rank this novel The Potato Factory a four plus if I could. Neglected to mention that I did listen to about a fourth of the book and the narrator is excellent.

  • Mirjana
    2019-04-04 21:06

    I enjoyed every word of this book,and who ever likes historical novels, will love it. Australian's are lately so proud of their convict heritage(you can't become Australian now if you have a criminal record!), and most have romantic idea of settlers drinking Billy Tea and singing Waltzing Matilda, sitting around the fire in the bush, but reality of the times 200 years ago is much closer to this book.Bryce Courtney likes to bring out "dirty laundry" and he does it with such elegance.Characters are interesting and you just have love them,or hate them, you can't be indifferent. Looking forward to second book in the Australian trilogy,...

  • P
    2019-03-26 21:30

    Because of my passing interest in the antipodes, after I read its description I thought maybe this book would give me some insight into life in Australia during the country's early years, specifically the first half of the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, I never got to the part where the main characters actually moved to Australia from England. They were so crass and disgusting, it became impossible for me to continue reading about them and their dissolute antics. So I gave it up, after about 100 pages. Time is too precious to waste it on despicable lowlifes.

  • Kris
    2019-04-16 17:05

    I love historical fiction. Before I read The Potato Factory I had never heard or Bryce Courtney. He has a way of writing that makes you feel transported back in time. The story of Ikey Solomon and Mary Abacus is brutal, and heartbreaking, however you have to admire the determination and success against all odds. The events of their lives, apart and together, lay a foundation for an unparalleled story you will not be able to put down. I have just started the second of the trilogy (which I did not know until I picked this book) Tomo and Hawk. I have high expect ions for this book!

  • Tricia Riley
    2019-04-15 21:05

    I really enjoyed this book. It is long and the subject is heavy but it is an amazing read.The story is about Ikey Solomon (who the character Fagin from Oliver Twist was based on) and his fictional mistress Mary Abacus. Ikey is a fencer and uses his army of pickpocket children to get stolen goods to send to international markets. His mistress Mary Abacus has a quick mind for business and together they open a high class brothel. When Ikey's wife Hannah finds out about Mary she is furious and sets him up. Ikey flees England and Mary is sent to Australia. Each makes a new start in a new land.It was a fascinating read about the times of Dickens in England. I also found the story about transportation to Australia and what women faced when they arrived in Van Dieman's land very interesting.I highly recommend the book to others.

  • Valerie P
    2019-03-22 22:19

    Another supremely entertaining story by Bryce Courtenay. I read the paperback version as well as listened to the audio book. Humphrey Bower is such a great narrator who brings all of Courtenay's colorful characters to life! This is the first book in a trilogy, chronicling the fictionalized life of Ikey Solomon, set in London and Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania). I'm already on to book 2: Tommo and Hawk and am enjoying this 2nd bookImmensely too.

  • Amanda Johnston
    2019-04-16 23:20

    It just wasn't my cup of tea...

  • Janine
    2019-04-03 21:33

    This book was physically difficult to read with over 600 pages of single line spaced small font. Really interesting story but did get bogged down at times.

  • Kathleen Hagen
    2019-04-21 16:14

    The Potato Factory, by Bryce Courtenay, Narrated by Humphrey Bower, Produced by Bolinda Publishing, downloaded from book is the first in a series of three. Bryce Courtenay, in an introduction which he read personally in the audio version, states that it is his tribute to Australia, a country which has given him much. (He was born in South Africa.) This book is about Ikey Solomon, apparently a real person. He was raised in the poorest streets of London, became a thief, and trained a band of little boy pickpockets to bring him the best items to fence. He was called The Prince of Fences by the underbelly of London. The first part of this book, which mostly describes Ikey’s life, reads much like Oliver Twist, written in the same time period. IN fact, there apparently is an apocrophyal story that Charles Dickens knew Ikey Solomon, and used descriptions of Ikey’s “School of Light Fingers” in creating the pickpocket family in Oliver Twist. Ikey is married to Hanna, and the two hate each other. Ikey meets Mary, known as Mary Abacus because, despite her very crippled hands, she can calculate faster using an abacus than anyone else and is a great bookkeeper for Ikey. Mary helps him with other schemes as well, and Hanna is very jealous of her. Then, Ikey becomes too greedy and crashes his empire, taking Mary with him. He deserts her and lets her take the downfall. Through a variety of circumstances and criminal behavior, Ikey, Hannah, and Mary all end up exiled to the penal colony in Australia. It is at this point, the second half of the book, that things get interesting. The first part drags a little, but eh second half, in Australia is compelling. The book isn’t necessarily the best written book. Courtenay can’t seem to decide whether he wants it to be a novel, describing conversations and thoughts of the various characters, or a history. Both are interesting but don’t necessarily jell together. It is very interesting to hear about both the England and Australia poorest classes, where Mary can have her fingers stomped because she takes bookkeeping jobs away from men, where Jews, particularly in England are reviled, (Ikey and Hannah are Jewish) and where Mary, with the courage to do it, manages to start a brewing company, The Potato Factory, and do very well despite the male brewers who hate her. It appears the next couple of books will be about Mary and her two adopted sons and Ikey’s family, still warring against each other. I have to say a word about Humphrey Bower. I cannot imagine anyone else narrating these books. His talent for all kinds of accents and voices is amazing. I think Bower makes the book, whereas maybe I wouldn’t have finished it if I had been reading it in Braille instead of listening to it. Very good, and I look forward to the other two in the series.

  • Trisha
    2019-04-03 20:31

    My Goodreads friend from Australia recommended this author to me when I told her I was looking for something by a writer from her country. Another reviewer raved about the audio version narrated by Humphrey Bower,one of those talented actors who makes characters come alive through the different voices and accents he gives them. A good thing too because this novel, the first in a trilogy, is filled with colorful characters which made it a lot of fun to listen to them speak, rather than simply read what they were saying. The book is set in the 19th century and moves back and forth between the grimy streets of London and the disreputable people who lived there, and the British outpost at Van Dieman’s Land, Australia where criminals were sent in prison ships as a punishment for what were often for very trivial offenses. While the historical details were fascinating, including the fact that the central character really existed (and was the inspiration for Fagan in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist) I wasn’t as excited about the plot, which often verged on melodrama. There were plenty of villains to boo and hiss at, as well as a poor hapless heroine to sigh over because of her many misfortunes. In fact the plot included far too many horribly brutal things that were being done to her, and each of them was described a bit too graphically for my taste. A further drawback was the novel’s pacing which was uneven and a bit tedious in places. To make matters worse, the ending was so contrived that it was hard not to regret having made it that far! Nevertheless for all its many flaws, I enjoyed listening to this novel. It was fascinating to learn a little about Australia’s history including the similarity between what happened to the Australian Aborigines and the American Indians. Aside from the fact that most all of the characters tended to be a bit too unrealistic, they were nevertheless quite colorful, and with names like Tiberius Pockbottom and Sparrowfart, they would have been quite at home in one of Charles Dickens’ novels, especially since Courtenay’s was set around the same time. (And in fact both Charles Dickens and the Artful Dodger make cameo appearances.) But when all is said in done I have a feeling I wouldn’t have stuck with this book had I been reading rather than listening. It’s quite lengthy – and translated out to over 24 hours of listening so I’m sure it would have been even longer to read. So I doubt very much whether I’ll go back and pick up the next two books in the trilogy. This one was good -- but not that good!

  • Jill Polsby
    2019-04-06 17:10

    Many years ago I read "The Power of One" - Bryce Courtenay's book on South Africa......I never did read the sequal for some reason and I don't think I realized how many historical fiction books he had written. This summer I picked up Power of One again, and just so, so enjoyed it again. Courtenay's style of writing is gentle, informative, involving.....The people seem to be real people, with real histories and they tell the stories of the countries. Went on to read "Tandia", the second book in the South African series. Then got involved with Tasmania and the exportation of the English prisoners, criminals, anyone who did anything bad. The first book was "The Potato Factory" which started in England with several fabulous characters each one of which was finally deported to Hobart Town, Tasmania. The story becomes more and more involved with the history of the people, the transactions.......Once again I was in love with Bryce Courtenay. Last night I started the 2nd book in the Tasmanian trilogy: "Tommo and Hawk" and I placed an Amazon order for the 3rd book: Solomon's Song. Bryce Courtenay was just diagnosed with terminal cancer and is receiving a lot of press. I think other people will want to be just as involved with his wonderful writing as I have been.

  • LemonLinda
    2019-04-02 20:12

    This book is a good one to read if interested in the historical perspective of Australia (or rather Van Diemen's/Tasmania) as a destination for prisoners from Great Britain in the early decades of the 19th century. It covers the prison ships as they transport those banished from their home countries and then life as they live out their terms and afterwards.It is also the fictionaliized story of an infamous criminal, Ikey Solomon and his life of crime. Ikey is believed by many to have been the model for the Dickensian character, Fagin, who trained a multitude of little pickpockets like his character, the Artful Dodger, who also had a little part of this novel.It is also a story of Mary Abacus, Ikey's one time mistress and long time business partner, who was my favorite character of the book. With many strikes against her, she never gives up and is determined to pull herself and others beyond what could be expected.It is ultimately a good story interwoven with a good amount of history which is my favorite type of book.

  • Jacula
    2019-04-20 23:25

    This book was given to me by the lady in the next apartment to ours whilst we were holidaying on Crete. We'd struck up a 'Lovely weather again/how's your day been?' relationship whilst sitting on our ground floor balconies reading."You won't be able to put it down," she told me.She was right.The book is based on Ikey Solomon, the so-called "Prince of Fences" and the basis of the Fagin character in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. It is the first in a three-part series, followed by Tommo & Hawk and Solomon's Song. I have since bought the trilogy in one huge book and will probably re-read the first part.The book's other main character is fictional, a woman named Mary Abacus. Abacus goes from serving girl, to prostitute, to high-class madam, to prisoner transported to Australia, to successful businesswoman. She gets her name for her outstanding ability to use an abacus.The story starts in London in the early 1800s. Mary and Ikey start working together as business partners. It follows them as they are separately sent to Australia, a penal colony at the time.

  • Jacqui
    2019-03-25 19:28

    Memorable Quotes“ only desire is to teach the word o' man and leave the word o' Gawd to the pulpit men” “The rapacious white tribe who were arriving in increasing numbers, not only as convicts but also as settlers, wanted to own everything they touched. They slashed and burned the wilderness so that they might graze their sheep and grow their corn. They erected fences around the land they now called their own and which henceforth they were prepared to defend with muskets and sometimes even their lives. They built church steeples and prison walls and homes of granite hewn from the virgin rock and timber cut from the umbrageous mountain forests. They possessed everything upon the island, the wild beasts that grazed upon its surface, the birds that flew over it, the fish that swam in its rushing river torrents and the barking seals resting in the quiet bays and secluded inlets. Everything they thought worthwhile was attached to the notion of ownership.”