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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Marina Lewycka - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

review by showhost may 2013
'Extremely funny' said The Times
'Delightful, funny, touching' said Spectator
Amusing & interesting says me.
From back of cover: '2 years after my mother died my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee.  He was 84 and she was 36.  she exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside'.
Basically, yes, that is what it is about as told by the youngest daughter Nadezhda.  The 84 year old eccentric father has 2 feuding daughters Vera & Nadezhda.  At first they don't believe that their father is serious about marrying this buxom blonde but they are distraught when he starts sending her money & then voluptuous, gold-digging Valentina & son Stanislav, turn up to live with their father in his/their home.  Any hopes their father had of this gold-digger, loving him, cooking for him, caring for him & his home soon turn into fantasy as she internally divides the home and turns it into more of a pig sty and they live off boil in the bag food.  BUT he is in love & we all know that love is blind.  Even when she starts to treat him badly and a few bruises appear he still buys her cars and gives her money - which he is now having to borrow off his slightly sympathetic younger daughter.
The feuding sisters want their father to divorce her on grounds of non-consummation of marriage and they take it upon themselves to go to the immigration to tell them that this marriage was a complete sham.  The father still harbours love for voluptuous Valentina though and tries to drag his heels.  The only good thing about it all is that it has brought a truce between the two sisters.
However, in-between all this we have snippets from the book which the father is writing and has been writing for some time.  He is a lover of Tractors/machines/inventors and their history in the Ukraine.  In his book is their family's struggle through the wars and how they came to be in the Uk in Peterborough.
I found the book enlightening & amusing but I didn't laugh out loud.  I enjoyed the short history of the Ukraine too. 
One sentence which raised more of a smile narrated by Nadezhda: 'I thought Valentinas baby would look like a thugette in a nappy'.
This book won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse prize for comic literature 2005.

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