Sunday, 5 October 2008

The Sunday Salon: A Review - Two Tractors by Marina Lewycka


I woke up this morning to yet another cold day, not only cold but a day full of rain and dreary skies, I quickly rolled over wrapped in the duvet and missed the swimming session I was going to do. When I crawled out of bed I allowed myself to read the last 50pages of Two Caravans. Since then I've done a bit of studying, which I'm supposed to be continuing now with research into Polari a gay slang language, but I thought I'd type up this review first. Once thats down I have 30 homework pieces to mark, then I will either start Coraline or The Hours - both need reading this week.


Two Caravans is the second novel by Marina Lewycka, her first A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was a massive hit with most people, but I personally wasn't overly impressed, and certainly not gripped. However, I thought I'd give this next book a go, and I wasn't disappointed.

Two Caravans is about a goup of illegal immigrants trying to survive in England. They are initially brought over to pick strawberries, existing on minimum wage, food not even worthy for a cat and living in two tiny caravand between 9 people the workers are disinterested but stuck in this world of exploitation. The job at the strawberry farm soon disintegrates when the farmer is caught having an affair, and run over by his wife, and the immigrants split up.

From this point onwards there are many strands to the story, but the main one follows Irina and Andriy, both from the Ukraine but seperated by politics and class. As a young and attractive virgin, Irina is seen as a key commodity and is pursued by a man with a desire in proffiting from her body. Andriy is quickly falling from her, and out to protect her every step of the way. They have jobs in restaurants and a chicken farm (it will put you off eating chicken for life), and gradually make their way through London and up north.

I have to say England is portrayed as a pretty nasty place, there are 2 shootings, lots of expoitation and the few English people in the novel and mean and cruel to the outsiders. They also manage to make their money go a lot further than it possibly could.

But, this novel is funny, witty and sharp. Give it to a lot of the narrowminded people who exist and they would take it as gospel, as this England seems to be populated only by immigrants something that the Tabloid press would have us all believing.

Has anyone else read this? How did you think it faired to Tractors...?


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3 comments:

Table Talk said...

I'm interested you found this a better book. I've deliberately avoided it because I thought the first one was so bad. I'm not sure even now that I will go back and try this, there are some writers you just don't click with and for me Lewycks is definitely one of them.

gautami tripathy said...

It is 32 degree celsius, that is 90 degree F here. Horrid weather! I want cold!

SS 1: Burning up in October Sun
SS 2: A Dog About Town

Kill word Verification

katrina said...

Thats soooo not fair, I don't mind cold crisp mornings so long as its sunny, we're to expect a week of rain and wind, whooppee!