Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian ~ Reviewed

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
by Marina Lewycka
Published by Penguin Books
ISBN: 0-14-303-674-2

When an elderly and newly widowed Ukranian immigrant declares his intention to remarry, his intended turns out to be a voluptuous gold digger from the old country with a proclivity for green satin underwear and an insatiable appetite for the good life of the West. And so his children Vera and Nadezhda must set aside years of bitter rivalry to rescue their annoyingly frisky father who (when he's not pursuing Valentina) is busily writing a grand history of the tractor and its role in human progress. As the intrigues multiply and secrets spill out, A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian takes in love and suffering, family and ethnicity, sibling rivalry and the joys of growing old disgracefully.

The title is a huge red flag, but I wanted to give the book a try. To my dismay, the most interesting character turned out to be Valentina, though I didn't care for her schemes, at least they made her interesting. A great deal of unneeded information about tractors caused the book to drag, and viewing the story through one POV did not feel like the best choice, perhaps adding to the overall slowness of the book, since I didn't really feel a connection with Nadezhda.

Reviewed by Imogene Foltz

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