Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian Hardcover – Mar 15 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
The premise of Lewycka's debut novel is classic Viagra comedy: a middle-aged professor's aging and widowed father announces he intends to marry a blonde, big-breasted 30-something woman he has met at the local Ukrainian Social Club in the English town where he lives, north of London. It is clear to Nadezhda and her sister, Vera, that the femme fatale Valentina is only after Western luxuries—certainly not genuine love of any kind. Smitten with the ambitious hussy, their father forges ahead to help Valentina settle in England, spending what little pension he has buying her cars and household appliances and even financing her cosmetic surgery. In the meantime, Nadezhda, a socialist, and Vera, a proud capitalist, confront the longstanding ill will between them as they try to save their father from his folly. Predictable and sometimes repetitive hilarity ensues. But then Lewycka's comic narrative changes tone. Nadezhda, who has never known much about her parents' history, pieces it together with her sister and learns that there is more to her cartoonish father than she once believed. "I had thought this story was going to be a knockabout farce, but now I see it is developing into a knockabout tragedy," Nadezhda says at one point, and though she is referring to Valentina, she might also be describing this unusual and poignant novel.
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Vera and Nadezhda have not spoken to one another since their mother's funeral two years ago. But the news that their eccentric 83-year-old father, Nikolai, wants to marry a 36-year-old woman from Ukraine so that she can stay in England causes them to work past their differences to save the old man from himself. Despite their efforts, Valentina moves in with Nikolai and begins to demand the good life the West is supposed to provide her, from a "civilized person's Hoover" and a "not-peasant-cooking" stove to a Rolls-Royce. As Valentina's demands become more ridiculous, the sisters band closer together to get her out, while Nikolai begins his laborious work on the history of the tractor and its effect on society. While the sisters and Valentina spar, Nadezhda struggles to put together the pieces of her family's past in Ukraine and Germany during World War II. Drawing on her own family, Lewycka has created a funny, tender, and intelligent novel that is as much social history as family saga. It is a delight. Elizabeth Dickie
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Valentina is a brutish cow of a woman who has men lining up for her attentions; she quickly makes Pappa's life unbearable. Nadia, ten years younger than her sister, grew up knowing nothing of their parents' lives in Ukraine; little by little she gets Vera to talk about what her parents - and she - went through under Russian and German rule. These reminiscences were so horrific, so pitiable, I read with tears in my eyes, yet I was glad to see light shed on this grim chapter of history.
This is a quick read, an odd combination of wry family humor and grand tragedy; I would not call it a comedy by any means. Recommended for those who like stories about families whose members don't always see eye-to-eye, and for those who would like to learn about the Ukrainian experience in the 20th century.
I would recommend this book to any lover of good literary works. There are many lessons to learn from this book. In different ways we find that too in THE UNION MOUJIK, WAR AND PEACE,THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES, OUR KIND.I enjoyed reading this book, so if you are undecided , my advise is that pick it up and do some reading that you will remember after
I would recommend this book to any lover of good literary works. There are many lessons to learn from this book. Explored in a similar manner in The Lincoln Lawyer , Disciples of Fortune, it is a fascinating angle. I enjoyed reading this book, so if you are undecided, my advice is that you should pick it up and do some reading that you will remember afterwards as a worthwhile story.
Most recent customer reviews
Combines mad dialogue of Ukrainians in the UK with a horrible past and a woman who will not leave. Mostly dialogue and narration but I guess that's all it needs. Read morePublished 6 months ago by E. R. Yatscoff
Roll on the floor funny while also seriously good fiction.Published 21 months ago by Julie Brickman
I found the story confusing and quite unbelievable just wasted by time reading it. Even my friends wouldn't accept to read it.Published on May 24 2014 by Anna Read
Being of Ukrainian decent, I understood the family dynamics that occurred in this book. Well written and easy to keep reading. Read morePublished on Feb. 1 2014 by Derek Finnik
I am of Ukrainian extraction and I found her treatment of everything superb. I am sure I will read it again.Published on Jan. 15 2014 by Fred Paranchych
The book arrived in time and in good order. There was a discrepancy between the time given by amazon and the place from which it was shipped. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2011 by firstname.lastname@example.org