Book review: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian- Marina Lewycka
I'm not going to lie, I only bought this because I liked the name and the cover. It seemed to have a lot of positive comments too. I know you can't go by the quotes on the cover, since they only choose the best ones, but there were a lot and they all seemed to talk about how funny the book was.

It's not funny. It didn't even seem like Lewycka was trying to make it funny. The book tells the story of Valentina, a busty bombshell from Ukraine, who marries an elderly Ukrainian man living in England. He is initially caught under her spell and believes that she is truly in love with him, although his daughters, warring sisters Nadia and Vera, convince him that Valentina is using him for a visa. As Nadia and Vera put aside their differences to defeat the exploitative Valentina, the younger sister uncovers family secrets that she was never supposed to learn.
I found it difficult to really care about any of the characters. Nadia, our narrator, is very bland and lacks any depth. Vera is just irritating, Valentina is annoying and the father is just odd. I didn't care if Valentina was deported. I didn't care if Vera and Nadia made up. I was totally apathetic about the whole thing.

The real problem behind this is that there was no character development. Lewycka spent so long concentrating on the back story of fleeing Ukraine that we never really learned about why the characters acted the way they did. 

Vera and Nadia's father (I've forgotten his name- That's how much I don't care!) is writing a book about tractors in Ukraine called, wait for it, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Like the book. See what she did there. Clever, I know. There are frequent references to tractors and various long extracts from the book. I don't know why. There must be a reason. There must be some literary device at work here. All I know is, I found it irrelevant and I ended up skim-reading most of them.
The one thing the book has going for it is that it wasn't boring. I wasn't desperately ploughing my way through it waiting for the end. It kept me entertained enough. It just wasn't clever or relevant enough for me to have any real feelings towards it.

1 comment :

  1. This actually sounds pretty interesting. I've been looking for some new books to read after Christmas...I may have to scout this one out!


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