Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka

84 year old Nikolai, recently widowed, announces to his daughter that he is planning to marry a 36 year old Ukrainian lady. Apart from the other domestic support and help he is expecting, she is intelligent and can discuss Nietzsche and other intellectuals with him; also the honourable mention was her large bosom ( to the discomfort of the daughters). It is not as simple. One, he is just been widowed and it is not easy to get the daughters to agree with him. More importantly, the lady herself is married and she has to obtain the divorce certificate from her current husband, an intelligent man who is a director of a technical school. Nikolai, an exile from Ukraine over half a century is also been thrilled by rescuing another family from the hopeless state of affairs in that country. For Valentina to remain in Britain, she needs to obtain a visa and the only way to get one is to marry someone of this country.

Things soon progresses and without the involvement of the daughters, they get married.  Young voluptuous lady, soon gets into her real motives. She continue to torment the old man for her petty needs, buying various attractions of the west for them , including cars of various make. The inability of the old man to go along the demand makes her angry and to physical abuse, including locking up in room.

The sisters now get together and plan to rescue the father from the mess. They approach the authorities to deport her back, to get the marriage null and void, to make sure that there is protection for the old man.. but to no great effect. However, the situation improves after an incident in a hospital and they manages to get the lady out of the house, but the threat and exploitation continue. With some smart maneuver they manages to get the divorce and her deportation orders.

The old man , an engineer wanting to write a book on the evolution of tractors ( thus the name of this book) manages to complete the book and present it to the husband of Valentina, whom he befriends. The extract of the book being written is given at various chapters of this book.

Two sparring daughters ( over the distribution of wealth after the death of their mother) get together to rescue their father fro the clutches of a cunning and manipulating Ukraininan lady, while trying to understand their own past and roots in history.

Often witty, and easy flowing, the book will have your attention till the end. However, beyond that cheap thrill of 'what next' this book is pretty hollow. The description of tractors and the family history during their days under World War II does not seems to be getting along with the main theme.


A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

Marina Lewycka

Penguin Books

326 Pages

Read More : Complete-review

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