Wednesday, 1 October 2008

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

I had no intention of reading this book. I honestly thought that it was about Tractors that had been built in the Ukraine. Not a far fetched thought as my father collects scale model vehicles and has given my son a few that had been manufactured in the USSR.
I was at a Bookcrossing meeting when this book landed on the table and I was set straight of my misconception. So I brought it home.
The first 10 pages left me a bit confused, possible due to the use of various nicknames for Nadezhda/Nadia and other family members. A few more pages and I got the hang of it.
Nikolai reminded me a bit of my Ukrainian grandfather. He would also have been chasing after Valentina with the exception that my grandmother would have smacked him on the back of the head and told him to behave.
I enjoyed the interactions between Vera and Nadia. Yes, they were upset with each other regarding the inheritance from their mother, but when their father needed them, they put that dispute aside and pulled together to help him.
The quick camaraderie between Nikolai and Dubov (Valentina's ex husband) was a balm to the ill feelings created by Valentina. Even though he was a rival for her affections, Nikolai had to like him. Dubov was many things that he respected. I am sure the two of them could have been the best of friends in different circumstances. There I go, turning them into real people, I can't help it, I was so caught up in their interaction.
Even though the thought of reading an historical perspective on tractors did not appeal to me initially, when I saw that one of those italicized passages about the tractors was approaching, I read quicker so I could get to it sooner. I found them very interesting and was wishing that were more.
In reading an online biography of Marina Lewycka I came across a most interesting quote, "When A Brief History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005) was first published, it was allegedly mis-shelved by many booksellers in their agriculture or engineering sections."

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1 comment:

My Novel Thoughts said...

Great review - I'm glad that you ended up enjoying it. It is a very potentially misleading title!