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.



The Fionavar Tapestry – Guy Gavriel Kay

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F tap

Whenever someone asked me what I was reading during the last few weeks, I coyly avoided the question, palming it off with the response “Oh, just some mindless fantasy, it won’t change the world or anything, but it’s very entertaining.” Which, coincidentally, is the ideal way to describe The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay.

I searched long and hard to get my hands on copies of these books, which I originally read in high school, but have always wanted to own for myself. I remembered being blown-away by them at that time, and was hoping for the same experience when I re-read them recently.

I must say, it’s clear to see the Tolkien influence in these books. Most of the time, you feel like the story is the love-child of Lord of the Rings and Narnia, with a bit of Biblical influence thrown in there (not that this story has any Christian allegory whatsoever, unlike the more famous predecessors). But, by the time it reaches its conclusion, it does stand as a trilogy in its own right, even if it feels quite cheesy a lot of the time.

It tells the story of five American students transported to another world to join in annual celebrations of the King. However, they arrive on the brink of catastrophic war, and each discovers that they have a purpose much greater than just celebrating.

It’s fluffy and entertaining, and if you can dig into a bit of fantasy-escapism, then you’ll probably enjoy this series. I paired it with the magical Nitida Cabernet Sauvignon, which carries flavours of cherries, vanilla, leather and musky tobacco leaves.