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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian: Marina Lewycka (Penguin Essentials, 71)

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However, I really like Lewytska's narrative voice, and I will definitely be on the lookout for her other works. As Romeo and Juliet found to their cost, marriage is never just about two people falling in love, it is about families.

There were moments of good dialogue, and some things that made this child of immigrants sort of smile and roll her eyes. A. When I was writing for Age Concern, I spent a lot of time listening to the stories of older people, and their loving but exasperated sons and daughters.There is such a mismatch between the way older people perceive themselves, and the way they are perceived by society. Considering this was a first attempt it was pretty good, but i'd expect a big improvement in a second novel. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a humorous novel by Marina Lewycka, first published in 2005 by Viking ( Penguin Books). The premise of a young Ukrainian woman marrying and exploiting an 'intelligent', 84 year old man unbelievable.

Told by the character of Nadezhda, this is the tale of her father’s second marriage to the much-younger Valentina. It's a rather unimaginative and banal satire on Ukrainian immigrants in UK, a story of a young and pretty gold-digger, an old besotted fool and his two daughters who try to prevent the catastrophe and even resort to putting on hold old grudges, while uniting against this common enemy. Filled with eccentric characters (none more so than the elderly father and Valentina), passion, purpose, and desperation, it is at once very funny and moving.He states that the "rhythm and dynamics of this debut novel are well managed", and that Lewycka is successful in setting up "many comic situations", but finds the characters, such as Valentina with her "enormous breasts" and liking for green satin underwear, "caricatures" and the novel "constructed". The reason I hated this book (and, in fact, completely forgot about it until recently) is because these are some of the worst characters ever to be described. Once I had understood how much she was prepared to sacrifice in her desire to better herself, and her commitment to her son, it was hard to be wholly unsympathetic. The other two seemed even more unlikely: one claimed to be from my father’s niece, the other from my mother’s sister.

Szüleivel és nővérével, Verával érkezett meg még a világháború utáni zűrzavarban Ukrajnából Britanniába, ahol sikerült is szépen betagozódnia.

One of the failings of the novel is for me the fact that certain people are almost totally invisible: Nadia's husband Mike is present in the background usually with a glass in hand but rarely even given a word, and the children of both sisters are almost completely absent (apart from one instance rather clumsily written but crucial to the story). But at the end of the day, and despite her frenetic activity, it's not about Valentina, it's about Nikolay, Vera and Nadia; and their mother. The reasons for the conflict lie in different personal history of the sisters, which was in turn shaped by the large and frightening History of Europe of the last 60 or so years.

However, when the narrative switches to flashbacks from Ukraine decades ago, everything is very real and the same characters are supposed to be taken seriously, which produces a rather grotesque effect. Refugees after WWII, they were a typical family who must start over in modern England living out the immigrant experience.

Delightful, moving, funny and utterly unforgettable, A Short History is a book that will resonate with me for a long time to come.

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