A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, by Marina Lewycka - my review

Overview (via Goodreads):

"Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukranian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside."

When their recently-widowed father announces he plans to remarry, sisters Vera and Nadezhda realise they must put aside a lifetime of feuding in order to save him. His new love is a voluptuous gold-digger from the Ukraine half his age, with a proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, who stops at nothing in her single-minded pursuit of the luxurious Western lifestyle she dreams of. But the old man, too, is pursuing his eccentric dreams - and writing a history of tractors in Ukrainian.

A wise, tender and deeply funny novel about families, the belated healing of old wounds,the trials and consolations of old age and - really - about the legacy of Europe's history over the last fifty years.

Product details (via Goodreads):
By Marina Lewycka
Published 2012 by Fig Tree (first published 2005)
ISBN: 0241961823 (ISBN13: 9780241961827)

Click here for  Goodreads

My opinion:
This book was offered to me last Christmas. I had never heard about the author or any of her books. After reading the synopsis I thought this could be a funny story.
The story is about one family... sometimes it seems like a quite dysfunctional family.
As you can read above, after the mother died, the father falls in love again with a much younger woman. And that woman means trouble.

While we read about the present, we can also read about the past of the family, and the roots of the two Ukrainian sisters who try to help their father with the recent acquired girlfriend (the "gold-digger"). The sisters, Vera and Nadia, who usually don't get along so well, have to unit against the new common enemy, since their father, Nikolai, is too in love to see what's happening, thinking that Valentina is perfect and she doesn't do anything with a bad intention. He seems like a teenager falling in love for the first time and writing love poems to the loved one. Valentina, the girlfriend, could really make me feel angry.

And when I thought "but why does the book have such a title?!", there it started, the short history about tractors in Ukrainian, with the communism and exploitation of Ukrainian people and land as background, written by the father, who was an engineer. The jumping from present to past, to present again isn't confusing at all, since it's really well made. And the past memories are really well constructed, like the really memories of a real person.

I don't think the book was totally hilarious like I thought it would be when I read the synopsis. It had funny part but also sad parts. The characters are well constructed and real, and that was one of the best things about the book.

I like the way the author wrote, with the necessary dialogs and the amazing descriptions, which I loved so much. That really kept me reading.

But sometimes it seemed like I read it before, all the problems, the drama, the situations. I can't say it's original; I feel the opposite, it's just like many other novels, so it got me bored from time to time.

It's a story about love, envy, greed and forgiveness.

My rating:

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