Chosen by Jo
A fictionalised historical novel about career criminal Ikey Solomon and his transportation to Van Diemen’s Land
❚ “Set in the early 19th century, The Potato Factory explores the lives of London’s thieves, con men, prostitutes, street urchins and lowlife many of whom, suffering from England’s social and political inequalities, are sent to the penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania.
“Ikey Soloman was one such person. A real person who has been fictionalised here, the book is not so much about him, but rather the people who’s lives are changed because of him. After being sentenced to transportation, Ikey’s mistress, Mary Abacus, also makes the harsh journey from London to Van Diemen’s Land. In the backstreets and dives of Hobart Town, Mary learns the art of brewing and builds a potato factory, to fund her new future. However, Ikey’s wife, Hannah, also arrives in town, and each is set on destroying the other.”
Turning to Ann Gower, she smiled. “You’re a good woman, Ann Gower.”
Ann Gower drew back and looked askance at Mary. “Don’t you go ruinin’ me reputation, Mary Abacus. I be a real bad woman, but a bloody good whore, and you knows it!”
❚ “A thrilling story with plenty of interesting twists and turns. Ikey Soloman is a despicable rogue who you can’t help but like. Some scenes of violence seem a bit gratuitous. However, I love a story centred around hardship and poverty and so enjoyed this book thoroughly.” – Jo
❚ “I do like reading about the penal colonies and the stories of individuals who had to work so hard to adjust and survive, so this was an enjoyable read.” – Rachel