A short history of tractors in Ukrainian – Marina Lewycka

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This book gets a lot of negative reviews online, so I’ll be honest and say that I approached it with low expectations, in fact, with the expectation of putting it down halfway through (mostly due to the claims of elderly abuse in the book-which I can’t abide at all). However, I made it through the story, and not only that, I enjoyed it.

I think the problem is that this book is sold as a comedy, with blurbs on the cover reading things like “hilarious” and “outrageously funny” which this book simply is not. What it is though, is a fascinating reflection on what it is to be a refugee or migrant, which these days, is a very relevant topic.

As a vessel for discussing this theme of movement and identity, the author uses the story of Nadia and her 80-something  father, who remarries a much younger woman clearly just after his money (of which there isn’t much). Through it, the conflict faced by Ukraine in the 20th century unfolds as Nadia seeks to save her father from the wicked woman he suddenly finds himself married to after his wife’s death.

At times it is amusing, though the author often writes “in accent” as if she was a Ukrainian speaker speaking English, which can be annoying. Otherwise, I found it a simple read, with interesting insights into the social issue of migrants and conflict.

I paired this with the Nitida Sauvignon Blanc reserve, a simple yet flavoursome white wine that is easy drinking for all occasions.



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