A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

Another recommendation out of the blue (probably because I’d just read Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd, and I can kind of see the similarities). The story isn’t anything too strenuous: two Ukrainian sisters go to war with the gold-digger who has married their elderly father. But the author, writing as the younger of the sisters, wraps the story of around the complex family saga that begins almost a hundred years ago, travels across Eastern Europe and finishes in Peterborough – though not necessarily in that order.

And then there’s the history of tanks and tractors …

It’s a lively read, though it does have its dips. I almost gave up on it near the middle, but something happened (can’t say what) that piqued my interest, and then it really started motoring. I’m glad I stuck with it, otherwise I would’ve missed a treat of a courtroom battle.

The characters are … adequate, I think; a little hard to separate in places, (especially the narrator’s husband who seemed a little flat to me), but do enough work to keep the reader interested in what happens to them.

It does have moments that’ll make you laugh, and others that’ll terrify you about getting old, but all in all, I think it lacked surprises, if that makes sense. Everyone behaved exactly as you expected them to; there was no great epiphany, and I wasn’t sure that anyone really learned anything or were changed by their experience. So, I’d say it was an enjoyable read, though somewhat unfulfilling.

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