The Potato Factory
The Potato Factory is a 1995 fictionalised historical novel by Bryce Courtenay, which was made into a television miniseries in Australia in 2000. The book is the first in a three-part series, followed by Tommo & Hawk and Solomon's Song. The Potato Factory has been the subject of some controversy regarding its historical accuracy and its portrayal of Jewish characters.
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. Courtenay states in the book's introduction that it is a fictional historical novel based on extensive research, but portrays fictionalised versions of the characters. Author Judith Sackville-O'Donnell, who wrote another book on Ikey Solomon, claimed that the book was inaccurate and anti-Semitic.
The book's other main character is a completely fictional woman named Mary Abacus. Abacus goes from serving girl, to prostitute, to high-class madam, to prisoner transported to Tasmania, to successful businesswoman. She gets her name for her outstanding ability to use an abacus.
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