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The Potter's Hand Audio Download – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 16 hours and 41 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 14 Sept. 2012
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009AX2T5M

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The man of clay that AN Wilson throws onto his storytelling wheel in "The Potter's Hand" is the great Josiah Wedgwood, but this is much more than a historic telling of his life. Indeed, Josiah already has a thriving business at the start of the book. What Wilson does particularly impressively is to put Wedgwood's achievement and works into the context of the politics and social philosophy of the times, sandwiched between the two great revolutions in American and France. In order to do this, Wilson has to play slightly loose with artistic licence by altering dates and time lines a bit, but it works well. He also balances the real historic figures with several key figures of his own invention and where the historic figures don't quite fit with his narrative, he alters their ages and invents "facts" to the benefit of the fictional narrative.

Wilson's approach is a broad one, following a number of sub-plots throughout the book. Indeed, poor old Josiah often seems to float around on the edge of his own story for much of the book as Wilson concentrates on his nephew, Tom Byerley, who would run the family business after the period of this novel, and the entirely fictional characters of Caleb and Heffie Bowers and Blue Squirrel, a Cherokee girl that Tom meets while seeking to negotiate the supply of American kaolin to meet the order for the Catherine the Great. Also central to the book is Wedgwood's oldest daughter, Sukey, whose later children included Charles Darwin.

The result is a novel of ideas ranging from colonialism, slavery, the welfare of workers, class, religious belief, industrialisation and, with Charles Darwin's grandfather, the lecherous old Dr Darwin as the family doctor, early thoughts on evolution.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't realise immediately that the author of this book had such important connections with Josiah Wedgwood. A.N.Wilson's father was Managing Director of Josiah Wedgwood Ltd. Wilson knows the distinctive Potteries accent and this gives such credibility to the minor characters: Caleb and Effie. But also to Old Wooden leg himself who at intimate moments speaks the dialect. A.N.Wilson has a reputation for thorough research which means I trust him in this story. Josh's relationship, as a very superior tradesman, with the aristocrats in London and in Staffordshire is one of the most valued aspects of this wonderful story. The book is quite densely printed so thanks Amazon Kindle for enlarged printing enabling me to get through it quickly and easily
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Format: Paperback
Living in north Staffordshire I was looking forward to this book, but I found it oddly disappointing. Several things jarred with me
The overuse of local dialect was an irritant, some folk out there will have difficulty in understanding it fully.
I know it was written in modern times, but the use of the "F" word and the rather poorly described sex scenes were wholly unnecessary.
The interludes where the action jumped forwards 20 years made it all the more confusing.
On the positive side it gave a good account of the man Josiah Wedgwood and the spirit of the age.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel is based on the later years of Josiah Wedgwood’s life. His leg was amputated so he was known by most of his workers as ‘Old Wooden Leg’, but his disability had little impact on his energy, drive or imagination. A brilliant potter himself, he established a company that became a by-word for quality and innovation. This novel is a mixture of family saga, history and adventure yarn and Wilson knows his source, his father being the managing director of the Wedgewood Pottery.

This is a splendid story, huge in its scope, which improves the understanding of the age while giving insight into the principal characters. This was the Age of Reason, and also the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Both are well-presented and explained in this fine book. Some readers may find the absence of speech marks, or the strong Staffordshire accent, distracting, but these are minor quibbles in a major work. More important is the fine writing. For example, at the death of one of Josiah’s many children, Sukey takes up her Oboe:
‘The reedy oboe’s voice, a sad deep-throated bird, filled the silent house ..... Words could not have lifted them. The oboe skipped, sang, led onwards all who heard it with sounds which did not give hope, but which defied despair.’ Great stuff.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A.N.Wilson's historical novel about the family of Josiah Wedgwood, intrigues with its rich analysis of material success and emotional failure. You can trust A.N.Wilson with facts which otherwise might fade into fiction. It is an adventure and a revelation.
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By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
This was a book group choice, and I must confess I wasn't very much looking forward to it. Whilst the journey wasn't entirely plain sailing I am very glad I made the effort. The book was an unalloyed success at book group, receiving the approval of every member. A rare event. As I expected I had the least favourable view, but I must concede that overall The Potter's Hand is an impressive and immersive piece of fiction.

Ostensibly it follows Josiah Wedgewood from his formative years right up to his death, but it's main focus are the years after his marriage to Sally. The other principle characters are their daughter Sukey, nephew Tom Bryerly, a Cherokee Indian (A woman Tom met whilst on a mission to procure white clay for his uncle) and Caleb Bowers, a childhood friend of Josiah's.

The plot of the novel is short but exceptionally broad, taking in many of the important players of the Industrial Revolution. The tumultuous history of the time dovetails seamlessly with the novel. The American War of Independence, abolition of slavery, even the French Revolution butt up against The Potter's Hand, which sits in the middle, offering a lens on them all. At the centre of the novel is Josiah Wedgewood, lynchpin of so many deeds and events.

There were times when the sheer volume of characters and the depth of detail threatened to overwhelm me. Where was the story? The book felt not so much a novel but a fictionalised biography of Josiah Wedgewood. Snapshots placed in chronological order. Immensely detailed snapshots, but ultimately just pictures without an overriding story arc. If it hadn't been for the extra interest generated by my knowledge and relation by marriage to the area, I may have given up.

Had I done so I would have missed out.
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