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Publisher's Summary

Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was 84 and she was 36. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside. 

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must put aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth. But the sisters' campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers 50 years of Europe's darkest history and sends them back to roots they'd much rather forget....

©2005 Marina Lewycka (P)2014 Audible, Inc

Critic Reviews

"A charming comedy of eros... A ride that, despite the bumps and curves in the road, never feels anything less than jaunty." (Los Angeles Times)
"Lewycka is a writer with a fundamentally optimistic vision of the future and a healthy curiosity about the past." (Chicago Tribune)
"Charming, poignantly funny." (The Washington Post Book World)

What listeners say about A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

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Very different

Very different and very engaging.
And most enjoyable.
We learn about two sisters and their changing relationship, about their father, about Eastern Europe during the war, and interesting aspects of the development of the tractor around the world.
I was completely absorbed in all aspects of this story.

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boring and unfunny

when people say they don't read fiction these are the kind of books I imagine they've read. i like clever satire like the sellout and i like popular comedy like sedaris, i even like the big bang theory. this i just don't find funny. an old man marries a big titted gold digger. mild shenanigans ensue

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brilliant …

i am getting on in years and looking for a younger wife … interesting perspective considering i have two daughters lol

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Loved it!

I have been looking for a fun, philosophical, meaty, engaging, pleasantly political, brilliantly light-hearted but intellectually fulfilling novel for such a long time! As if my life depended on it! And lusciously narrated as well!

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  • John S.
  • 31-07-2012

Audio's the way to go here

Some readers really disliked this one, claiming the characters are insufferable. I can see why it might seem so in print, but in the audiobook they were quite well-defined (quibble though that Vera and Valentina were kind of similar sounding names, so I got them a bit confused at times). Since we see the action through the point-of-view of the younger daughter Nadia, naturally we're going to find the sister she dislikes (or at least resents) offputting; at least until the full story comes out later in the book. Nadia is a bit of a put-upon mouse at first, but comes into her own as well. Valentina may be scheming and materialistic, but a golden opportunity was thrust at her, so no surprise she took it! Their father did, indeed, put himself into the mess, but he did so much for the family over the years (as becomes evident later), that I could forgive him a well-intentioned idea ("rescuing" a Ukrainian woman and her son) gone horribly wrong. The book's not perfect - for one thing, I found the War years details clunkily done, awkward to get through. No spoiler, but the later developments were a bit much also: one key player comes to England as part of a long-term conference/training scheme ... yet speaks no English! Still, the farce helps balance out the more serious details of the family's painful past.
I'm not certain I would be giving the print version such a high rating, but the narrator hit a home run with the material as far as I'm concerned. Loathsome though Valentina behaved throughout, I looked forward to her scenes as Thomas laid on the Ukrainian accent and broken English for maximum comic effect. The father was also well done, although he sounded an awful lot like a Russian character in a mystery series I listen to ("What's Petru doing here?").
So, not only would I recommend listening, I was left hoping for a sequel.

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  • Clarissa Emiria
  • 10-07-2012

Ukranian is NOT my strong suit....

What made the experience of listening to A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian the most enjoyable?

I especially enjoyed the narrator's characterizations, and I feel very blessed that I can read along in my paperback copy of the book, when she breaks out the accents :-D

What other book might you compare A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian to and why?

I will not compare it to any other book, none springs to mind, to be honest.... It seems like one of a kind, to me...

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

My humor may be a tad on the morbid side, but I found some of the passages very entertaining, the way they were told were hilarious to me, and I laughed out loud, even on the bus... :-)

That said, I do not condone abuse and mistreatment of the elders...

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  • Jan
  • 26-11-2020

Absolutely brilliant!

The story is captivating and interesting, at times sad but conveyed in a light hearted way with a brilliant English wit:) Narration is also very engaging and lively.

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  • Mr Chops
  • 13-02-2018

Not amused

I thought this would be humorous from the reviews. It just seems to be some quite awful characters endlessly bickering over an inheritance. Perhaps it improves but couldn’t bear listen long enough to find out. Sorry!

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  • Neil Bottle
  • 20-06-2015

Excellent, charming and very engaging throughout

Another fantastic performance by Sian Thomass, her skill adds immeasurably to this story.
I love the way Lewycka writes. The writing is detailed, funny and warm.
The idiosyncrasies of her characters will make you laugh and reflect in equal measures. If you like Alan Bennett and Mike Leigh, then this is for you
I couldn't wait for this title to be added to audible.
This is audio book at its best. The way sian Thomass uses accent is amazing.
I can't praise her enough.
I spotted some rather negative reviews, about this book and I I wondered if they had read the same book???
I didn't want it to end; when is the next available!

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  • Jane
  • 28-03-2019

A very good read

I really enjoyed this book by Marina Lewycka. I much preferred it to "We are all made of glue" which I previously read. The story was more believable. The characters are all wonderful. I especially loved the old man who was so funny and typical of elderly eccenticism. I was hooked to this book and read it in 2 days. I never struggled to read it as I did with the glue book, This book is not about tractors but the old man's reference to them linked nicely to past history and the struggles of Ukrainian people in the 2nd world war. My most memorable moment was right at the end. Is he crazy or eccentric? We will never know but being naked whilst praying might suggest he is! There are funny moments as well as sad moments and this time the narration is spot on becsuse all the characters are English and Ukeanian which lends itself perfectly to the narrators skills.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Binky
  • 20-03-2021

I have never read a book like it!

I really enjoyed this book. The story is told in first person, and sometimes third person, by the daughter of an old Ukrainian man who marries a Ukrainian woman, much younger than himself, so she can stay in the UK, much to the consternation of his two daughters, who do not get along.

The actions of the main characters in present time are hilarious as they seek to outwit one another; however, at a deeper level their pasts, which are sometimes horrific, inform how they act in the present.

The narration by Siân Thomas was very good. She caught the characters perfectly and made the whole thing come alive.

I rarely listen to, or read, a book twice, but this one will be revisited.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Maria Rowe
  • 20-11-2017

great writing, excellently performed,

I specially enjoyed the narrating. It was a joy to listen to. So many different voices and accents!!

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for Edward T.
  • Edward T.
  • 26-01-2016

Entertaining

Entertaining book, superbly narrated. Easy to listen to with some very funny bits. Will definitely download others by author and narrator.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Paris
  • 14-04-2013

Ukrainian delight

Moreish. A not-quite-English word, for a not-quite-English book. Like a batch of exotic Eastern European ingredients, simmering together in a heavy English cooking pot. A story of redemption over decades, over a continent. The result is richly textured, savoury, not especially profound, but you certainly do crave for second helpings.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Helen
  • 14-05-2014

Gave up on it

I'm ashamed to admit I didn't make it through to the end. I got to about halfway, and still wasn't enjoying it. I'm just not that interested in tractors...

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-05-2022

Gripping and funny

beautifully written tale of a family with funny rich characters. Not nearly enough tractors for tractor fans.

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  • Mrs PE Bhola
  • 27-03-2022

A Valuable History Lesson

Interestingly, there is a storyline and historical facts neatly woven together. Certainly well worth reading.

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