** The Potato Factory by Bryce Courtenay


Potato Factory is the first book in a trilogy, the other books receiving their own review in the next couple of posts, about a family saga — but really about the myth of the birth of Australia. As a straight family story, it’s pretty much unbelievable, with the patriarch surviving so many dangers that he should never be able to survive more than a few pages, but instead finds himself in Hobart, Tasmania, a free man and a successful, almost-legal entrepreneur.

Expect multiple, cruel rapes, child abuses of any kinds imaginable, whippings and violence all around. Also expect bravura tales of convict transportation voyages, all in an effort to build the myth of Australia. The book is really more about the country than the family at its center. Still, there are oases of fine observations of human behavior and family dynamics that lift the tale from being a just a mythical story.

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