Friday, 9 December 2011

Review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

UK Publication Date: 2 March 2006
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 326
Format: Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Historical, Family Saga
Rating: 4 out of 5

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save the emigre engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western Wealth.

But the sisters' campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe's darkest history and sends them back to roots they'd much rather forget.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is the most engrossing book I have read in a very long time. Ok the title is a little deceiving to start with, but you soon find out what the title is about. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a family saga with a difference. Its actually three stories in one. The main story, as the synopsis says, is about two sisters and their struggle to save their father, Nikolai, from the clutches of gold-digger Valentina. Interspersed within the main story are two other stories. One being Vera and Nadezhdas' , or Nadia as she's known in the book, family history and the turbulent times during the war in the Ukraine. You then have the third story which is actually the title of the book. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is actually a book that Nikolai is writing.

Although this may seem confusing to start with, the three stories actually blend beautifully together. I didn't find the story funny at all, despite what the blurb on the cover says, but this didn't affect my enjoyment of the book.

My favourite character has to be Nikolai. For me he was the only character I found myself caring about. My least favourite character was Valentina. Not only was Valentina trying to steal his money she was also extremely abusive towards him.

Here is an excerpt showing the cruelty that Valentina shows towards Nikolai.

She corners my father as he is coming out of the toilet, bent over, fumbling with his flies.
'You living corpse!' she screeches. 'I will show you dooh-ress!'
She is wearing yellow rubber gloves, and has in her hands a tea-towel, wet from washing up, which she starts to flick at him.
'You useless shrivel-brain shrivel-penis donkey.' Flick Flick. 'You dried shrivelled relic of ancient goat turd!'
She flicks at his legs and at his hands that are stretched out for protection or in supplication. He backs away and finds himself pressed up against the kitchen sink.
-page 138.

I highly recommend A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

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