November 13, 2009

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is actually Lewycka's first published book but it is the third one of hers I have read after loving her latest release We are all Made of Glue and enjoying (but not loving) her second book Two Caravans. Based on my latest read I am glad that I have read the books in reverse order of their publication because although I did enjoy Tractors it was possibly my least favourite of the three.

Tractors is told from the perspective of Nadezhda (Nadia) the youngest adult daughter of a family who emigrated to England after WW2. Nadia has a virtually non-existent relationship with her older sister, Vera, following an argument that arose from their mother's death a couple of years before. The two sisters are reunited in some way though after their elderly father announces he is going to marry a woman much younger than himself so that she can obtain a residency visa for the UK. Nadia and Vera join forces to try and stop the marriage from happening in the first place and when that is not successful they work on ending it as soon as possible. They have good reasons for wanting the marriage to be over - their father's new wife is quite abusive towards him and I found these scenes particularly difficult to read.

Along with this story we learn the history of the families move to England and how different people in the family have different memories, interpretations and experiences of that history.

The book definitely has Lewycka's characteristic trait of combining serious issues with humour - I just found it harder to go over to the humour side in this book.

11 comments:

Jules said...

Pretty amazing how a book can be read all over the world! I've read it in French in 2008 and found it quite strange but entertaining at the same time! That's my only experience with this writer, I might jump in with the others if I can find them here....

JoAnn said...

This was a book I liked, but not enough to give her other books a try. Since this was your least favorite, maybe I should reconsider.

Paperback Reader said...

I read this in 2006 and didn't enjoy it all that much. It's good to know that Lewycka's books improve because it may incline me towards picking up Glue or a later work some time in the future.

Connie said...

I can't wait to read this. Thanks for the review!

savidgereads said...

I read this for one of my old book groups and I liked it, I didnt love it and couldnt work out what all the fuss was about or the fact it sold so well. I havent quite ever had the urge to read another of her books but maybe one day.

Karen said...

Hi Jules - she is obviously a writer that has appeal all over the world.

Hi JoAnn - I would definitely give her latest one a go - I liked it the best.

Hi Claire - I think it probably totally depends on the individual reader and which of her books they would enjoy the most - I connected with Glue much more than her other two books for some reason.

Hi Connie - I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

Hi Savidgereads - I must admit I was a little unsure as to what all the fuss was about too! I do think she is a good writer though.

Tamara said...

From Karen's review and the comments here, I'm not sure if I want to pick this up - although I love the title... how could tractors have a short history though?

Karen said...

Hi T - the title is great isn't it? It actually comes from sections in the book where the father is writing the history.

farmlanebooks said...

This is the only one of her books which I've read and like Claire I didn't enjoy it much. It is great to know that the others are better and might try one in the future - thanks for the review!

softdrink said...

I think I have a copy of this around somewhere...thanks for reminding me. ;-)

Nadia said...

I have this book on my shelf, but have yet to read it. I'll probably give it a go next year, as your review does raise my interest in it. Thanks!