M.j. Croan's Reviews > The Potato Factory

The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay
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Oct 12, 2010

it was amazing

‘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.’
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 10, 2010 – Finished Reading
October 12, 2010 – Shelved

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