#AShortHistoryOfTractorsInUkrainian by Marina Lewycka spoiler free mini book review
My opinion of this book seems to differ from many of the critics and online reviews I have seen, all commenting on it's laugh out loud qualities and hilarity. Whilst in places I found the story amusing, in the beginning I found it to be slow going, and at times I wasn't sure I'd continue to the conclusion.
I am however glad that I stuck with it, as along with being amusing, it is sad, frustrating and infuriating, sometimes simultaneously! I was completely hooked about a third of the way in, desperately hoping for a satisfying conclusion to events.
The story (without spoiling events, and stating nothing that isn't in the blurb) is told from a younger siblings in a Ukrainian families point of view. After her mother passes away, the family are brought together, firstly by the funeral, and subsequently by the elderly father's poor series of decisions, from which he marries a young, Ukrainian, aggressively blonde and similarly demanding divorcee woman. The father's infatuation leads him to squander his finances on the gold digger, on cars, surgical enhancements and education for her son. These events stir up past memories and feuds between the sisters, all of which must be put to one side for the sake of rescuing the father from the assault on the senses that is Valentina.
What I think makes this a successful read is Lewycka's ability to induce empathy for all of the characters - even the peroxide haired, boob enhanced Valentina at times. It becomes increasingly frustrating towards the climax of events, and therefore hugely satisfying as we ride the proverbial railroad out to the end, discovering more about the families relationship, and of wartime history as we go.
To coerce such a variety of emotion throughout it's pages is surely a credit to the penship of Lewycka, and I highly recommend this read for fans of emotive, humorous writing, wartime history and of family dramas.