A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in UkrainianOK … So I told you that I would check back in with a brief review of “A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian” by Marina Lewycka. And here it is

It was OK!

… what you want more?

I finished it a while back now, but I have been putting off writing the review as I didn’t really want to start off with a negative review, and I suppose that a verdict of OK is neutral right? The thing is, I expected so much more. It has won a bunch of prizes including the Orange Prize for Fiction … surely it should warrant more than OK.

It is a mildly amusing story of a daughter’s relationship with her slightly crazy father when not long after her mother’s death when he announces that he is going to get married to a 36 year old woman from his Ukrainian home land.

Told from the point of view of Nadezhda, the daughter, the story ticks along as if written in a diary with regular updates on the progress of her father and his Generously Chested new bride. Nadezhda is forced to turn to her estranged sister Vera.

Along the old man tells how the tractor and Ukrainian engineering has changed the lives and landscape of Eastern Europe, hence the title. We also get the back history of how the old man escaped from the old country, the 2nd world war and communism.

This for me was the books short coming. This is the bit of the book that should grab you by the lapels and force you to pay attention. Nadezhda is accused of missing the “horrors of the 2nd world war” and yet when these horrors are illustrated they lack the punch of books such as Charlotte Gray or The Sixth Lamentation.

Consequently the book left me with a feeling of being cheated out of something that could have been very good.

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2 Responses to A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

  1. Guy says:

    I was very interested to hear your thoughts on A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian which I also thought was only OK, but having not yet read both Charlotte Gray and The Sixth Lamentation I’m off to Amazon to buy them now.

  2. Mr Geek says:

    You might want to read Birdsong before Charlotte Gray, it is not necessary, but chronologically it makes more sense. The first in the trilogy is The Girl at the Lion d’Or, but I found that below par in comparison.

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