Always leave a little salt on the bread... Ikey Solomon's favourite 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. A thrilling tale of Australia's beginnings by master storyteller Bryce Courtenay.
When I arrived in Australia from Africa 44 years ago I wanted to read everything about my new country. To my enormous chagrin, this task took only three or four months. The early writing on Australia seemed to me to be very sparse and I wondered why this should be. The explanation given to me was that because we are a nation started by convicts, eighteenth and nineteenth century writers found that Australians were ashamed of their history and didn’t want to read about it. This meant that all those books written by the novelists of that era for other countries are missing in this one. So, I decided that I would try, as my thank you note to Australia for having me, to write the three books I would most have liked to have found when I arrived. While it has been a labour of love, the books (thank God) have been enormously successful both in Australia and overseas. If you love historical novels you will find that Australian history makes for wonderful storytelling. All are big books so I’m sure you’ll get your money’s worth.