Book review: A short History of tractors in Ukrainian

P 62 of the book:

I have started to challenge Bib Sis’s self-appointed guardian-ship of the family history. She doesn’t like it.

“We come from solid bourgeois people, Nadezhkda. Not arrivistes.”

“But the Orcheretkos were – what? Wealthy peasants…”


“…turned horse-dealers.”

” horse breeders.”

“Cossacks, anyway. A bit wild, you might say.”


“And the Mayevskyj were teachers.”

“Grandfather Mayevskyj was Minister of Education.”

“But only for six months. And of a country that didn’t really exist.”

I had to fly to Greece for a few days last week and the only flight I could get was a really long one, through Zürich. I booked the flights and I sighed thinking what to do to make my journey quicker. I had a look at our bookcase.  The books that I buy and the books that my husband buys are completely different. He rarely reads my books and, up to recently, I rarely read his books. My books are usually on the heavy side. I chose based on Prize winners and pompous names. It is a Greek thing. “Everything has to be the best!” my husband imitates my mother’s heavy accent and moves his hands in an over the top dramatic way to mock her.  He makes me laugh but I usually try to say something back to rescue the dignity of the Greek race (Greek pride). Recently, and with our bookcases overflowing with books, I decided to give a go at his books. I will let you know of a little truth. I am actually enjoying his books more than I am enjoying mine! Shhhh…

So, this time my choice waw a quick one. I remember a couple of my (British) friends telling me how funny this book is and hubs confirmed it. The British print is a light one, so perfect for a long journey.

The first page had me smiling and the next few laughing out loud in the plane. The short history of tractors in Ukrainian is the story of a Ukrainian family that has been living in the UK for years. The two girls are now in their forties and fifties and with adult children of their own. Their mother passed away two years ago and now, their eighty-six year old father is ringing them to tell them he is getting married to a thirty-four year old Ukrainian girl. The dad sees the deal harmless. He will help her and her teenage son out with their UK visa. She will let him enjoy her extra large breasts. We have all heard of stories like that, certainly in Greece the past few years, but I have never given it any further thought. The author not only describes the story in a bitter sweet way but also with a great sense of humour. It also gives the insides of a second generation Ukrainian family in the UK. The inner thoughts and baggage that we carry of our country of origin despite the decades  abroad.
I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did.

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