A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian By Marina Lewycka

142579Last month I joined Love at First Book and The Book Wheel again for a book club read and this time the chosen book were A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.  Ever heard of don’t judge a book by it’s cover? With this book I’d say don’t judge it by it’s title, because this book isn’t JUST about the history of tractors (although there are some parts that covers that).

Vera and Nadia are two sisters who don’t particularly get along well and haven’t been in touch for a while when Nadia is forced to contact her older sister when she learned that her 80+ year old father is marrying a young Ukrainian woman in her thirties’ – a war refugee. Convinced that she isn’t really in love with their father, but rather a money-hungry opportunist, the two sisters bond over a mutual goal: to get rid of Valentina.

The two sisters fails to stop the wedding from happening, but work forwards helping the father get a divorce from Valentina. Why? Soon after the wedding, Valentina made her intentions clear. All she wants is to get citizenship in the US and she treats the father, Nikolai, horribly.  As much as she is nasty and mean, she does provide some comedy to the novel. I couldn’t help but find her funny , but I also wanted Nikolai to be rid of her as much as Vera and Nadia.

Nikolai was an expert on the history of tractors and was busy writing a book about it – that’s where the title comes in. I didn’t find that parts of the novel interesting, but overall I really enjoyed this book! It was an easy read about family drama, infidelity, sibling rivalry that’s also packed with humor. There were times were I even felt bad for laughing at certain scenes. I say that this is a nice and short read and if you do pick it up, you’ve read one of the books on the 1001 books you must read before you die list!

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  • I’d settle for tractors rather than tanks.

  • I keep wanting to join in that book club but the timing is always off for me. Also, I don’t read very well with others, lol. Anyway, this book sounds so interesting and I do hope to get to it one of these days!

    • I know haha, you’ve told me before how much you like reading with others 🙂

      I think you will like this book! It’s funny and has lots of drama.

  • I agree with your first commenter: tractors rather than tanks! In 2011 Cliff and I spent 3 weeks in Ukraine including Crimea. The Ukrainian people are gentle, artistic, and peace-loving. Russia needs to butt out in my view!

    • I agree Marian. It’s sad to think that in a way history is repeating itself.

      • Let’s hope it doesn’t repeat itself too much, Melinda!

  • It’s been several years since I read this one….all that stands out now is an overall positive impression and the humor. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Yes the humor definitely stood out. A lot of the situations were not funny, but the way it was written I couldn’t help myself but to laugh 🙂 I’m glad I got to read it

  • I really should read it one day

    • I hope you do, it’s funny

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A priceless view of two sisters. But with a title like that mostly you need someone to tell you that it’s worth reading. However it is set in Britain and is based on the desire to have a British passport.

    • I think that I wouldn’t have reached for it in a bookstore based on the title. I’m glad I got to read it for book club though. I’ll correct that mistake, oops! UK not US

  • Quirky titles often lead to very entertaining stories. Glad you’re enjoying this one.

    • Definitely entertaining. Thanks.

  • I felt bad for laughing at certain scenes too! It was like… I think this is supposed to be funny…. But if it isn’t, I’m a terrible person. Glad I’m not alone in that!

    • Lol! It’s Valentina, she makes it funny, because I could just picture her in my mind. The accent and lack of articulation is what made it even funnier – I felt so bad.

  • Well, the title certainly got my attention! It sounds really good. I like family dramas!

    • Family dramas are fun to read!

  • I’m glad you liked this, and I’m so glad that you joined us! Valentina was such a terrible person, but I loved the family relationships, especially between the two sisters.

    • That’s also the part of the story that I liked most – Vera and Nadia.

  • I remember when this book was up for worst title of the year award. 🙂 I have always been curious about it and was so glad to see you liked it.

    • I can understand why it was nominated for worst title of the year, lol 🙂
      It sure was an enjoyable read.

  • Great review! Glad to hear you enjoyed it, I remember really enjoying this title when I read it and have been meaning to re-visit it. 🙂 As an aside, I found the tractor history parts interesting because at the time I was reading this book I was also studying Ukrainian history (so it was like studying but not really studying, lol!)

    • How was studying Ukrainian history? Interesting? This was a funny one, I hope you find it funny again when you re-read it 🙂

      • Studying Ukrainian history was very interesting, especially as it complimented by Russian history studies and tied in with the histories of the Central European countries (plus my prof was pretty awesome with his Chicago accent and his very old school ways, hehehe) 🙂

  • I’m a little late (it’s been crazy with work), but THANK YOU for joining in!

    • You’re welcome. I try my best to join book clubs