Monday, 22 November 2004


I've finished two books since my last post, and started a third.

Last week I read The Potato Factory, by Bryce Courtenay. I was inspired to buy it by a link, perceived or real between my ancestor Judah Solomon, and the book's central character Ikey Solomon, who both arrived in Tasmania around the same time. Judah get's one mention at the end of the book, too, which gave me a buzz. In all, the story is of two characters, Ikey and his "mistress" Mary (the term is not a great fit, but better perhaps than any other), and their journeys from Dickensian (Oliver Twist-ian, to be exact) London to Van Diemen's Land. The Ikey character is good, taking much inspiration from Dickens' Fagin, but the Mary character is one-dimensional and not believable. She's altogether too nice, too honest, and I didn't buy it. Regardless, the story's distracting enough and, more importantly, the portraits, fictional though they may be, of London and Hobart, sated me for the few days that they afforded me.

After that, and a quick trip to the library, I started on, and finished off, Last Orders, by Graham Swift. I picked this one up because I saw all the previews for Schepisi's adaptation a couple of years ago. Not a bad little story, although I imagine it would have made a pretty slow-paced film, not having any plot to speak of. It's kind of depressing, too, in a way, with all the interrelated lives spent doing very little, and most family relationships dysfunctional or discontinued.

Having finished Last Orders Sunday afternoon, last night I started on Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, another book since adapted to film, although in this case a film I've actually seen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ikey Solomon also came to Tasmania and Judah paid for his funeral. The real stories of these people are much better than Courtenay who succumbs to popularist novelisation with some dodgy storylines. Your ancestor John Henry Cawthorn had a brewery in London prior to his emigration in 1818 and offered advice to the colonial government.