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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Marina Lewycka's history is more of the heart than of tractors

When Marina Lewycka's novel first came out, it was apparently miscategorized in some bookstores and placed in the agricultural section. A somewhat understandable mistake given the unusual title of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Now, granted, the final word should have been a title as it isn't a foreign language book, but grammatical errors have been known to sneak into titles before.

I read this book over the summer on the recommendation of FSB Associates, the folks who are hosting the Love of Reading Online Book Fair that ends today (you have gone to visit there, haven't you?). It was a wonderful recommendation and both my husband and I got a great deal of enjoyment out of the way this book was written. My full review is now posted at Book Help Web. Here's a teaser for you:

There may be tractors in Marina Lewycka's book, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, but it isn't a book about tractors. And even though the book does, in fact, give the history of tractors, it isn't a history book.

Rather, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is a story about family. The history of tractors is a parallel story to that of Nadezhda, Vera, and their elderly father, Kolya.

At first glance, it seems nothing more than the most mundane of themes. What could possibly be exciting about tractors? How could the story of an old man falling for a pretty, young, blonde, gold digger be anything but stereotypical and trite?

Yet both these stories hold surprises and hidden appeal. They take unexpected turns that make it worthwhile to look beyond the surface. No, things aren't always as they appear. More importantly, even when things are as they appear, they aren't always motivated by what we assume is the motivator.

Read more here...


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