von Marina Lewycka
What particularly struck me about this book was the beginning of the opening chapter. Reading it further captivated me and the end of the book proved that it is an amazing story. A story in a story, A SHORT HISTORY OF TRACTORS IN UKRAINIAN captured the depth of characterization that produced an amazing octogenarian in love with a woman in her prime, a born survivor who is determined to make use of any advantage to secure a better future for her son; and the pragmatism of two conflicting sisters who are determined to 'rescue' their father. Enlightening, hilarious, gracious, gave and tender in turns, this fascinating story gives us an insightful view of the lives of those trying to make a new life as refugees or exiles.
> A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Author. Date: 20 Oct 2010, Views:
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
Publisher: Penguin 2006 | ISBN: 0141806699 | Comic novel | Language English | Audio CD in MP3, VBR / 128 kbps | 216 mb
For years, Nadezhda and Vera, two Ukrainian sisters, raised in England by their refugee parents, have had as little as possible to do with each other - and they have their reasons. But now they find they'd better learn how to get along, because since their mother's death their aging father has been sliding into his second childhood, and an alarming new woman has just entered his life. Valentina, a bosomy young synthetic blonde from the Ukraine, seems to think their father is much richer than he is, and she is keen that he leave this world with as little money to his name as possible. If Nadazhda and Vera don't stop her, no one will. But separating their addled and annoyingly lecherous dad from his new love will prove to be no easy feat - Valentina is a ruthless pro and the two sisters swiftly realize that they are mere amateurs when it comes to ruthlessness. As Hurricane Valentina turns the family house upside down, old secrets come falling out, including the most deeply buried one of them all, from the War, the one that explains much about why Nadazhda and Vera are so different. In the meantime, oblivious to it all, their father carries on with the great work of his dotage, a grand history of the tractor.
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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Infobox Book |
name = A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
image_caption = First edition cover
author = Marina Lewycka
country = United Kingdom
language = English
genre = Comedy novel
publisher = Viking
release_date = 31 March 2005
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback )
pages = 336 pp (first edition, hardback)
isbn = ISBN 0-670-91560-2 (first edition, hardback)
"A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian " is a novel by Marina Lewycka. first published in 2005 by Viking ( Penguin Books ).
The novel won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize at the Hay literary festival. the Waverton Good Read Award 2005/6, and was short-listed for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction. losing to Lionel Shriver's " We Need to Talk About Kevin ".
The novel details in comic form the varied reactions by two daughters when their widowed father marries a much younger Ukranian immigrant. The father, a former engineer, is writing a history of tractors in Ukranian, details from which are interleaved throughout the text.
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Ireland, like Ukraine, is a largely rural country which suffers from its proximity to a more powerful industrialised neighbour. Ireland’s contribution to the history of tractors is the genius engineer Harry Ferguson, who was born in 1884, near Belfast.
Ferguson was a clever and mischievous man, who also had a passion for aviation. It is said that he was the first man in Great Britain to build and fly his own aircraft in 1909. But he soon came to believe that improving efficiency of food production would be his unique service to mankind. Harry Ferguson’s first two-furrow plough was attached to the chassis of the Ford Model T car converted into a tractor, aptly named Eros. This plough was mounted on the rear of the tractor, and through ingenious use of balance springs it could be raised or lowered by the driver using a lever beside his seat. Ford, meanwhile, was developing its own tractors. The Ferguson design was more advanced, and made use of hydraulic linkage, but Ferguson knew that despite his engineering genius, he could not achieve his dream on his own. He needed a larger company to produce his design. So he made an informal agreement with Henry Ford, sealed only by a handshake. This Ford-Ferguson partnership gave to the world a new type of Fordson tractor far superior to any that had been known before, and the precursor of all modern-type tractors. However, this agreement by a handshake collapsed in 1947 when Henry Ford II took over the empire of his father, and started to produce a new Ford 8N tractor, using the Ferguson system. Ferguson’s open and cheerful nature was no match for the ruthless mentality of the American businessman. The matter was decided in court in 1951. Ferguson claimed $240 million, but was awarded only $9.25 million. Undaunted in spirit, Ferguson had a new idea. He approached the Standard Motor Company at Coventry with a plan, to adapt the Vanguard car for use as tractor. But this design had to be modified, because petrol was still rationed in the post-war period. The biggest challenge for Ferguson was the move from petrol-driven to diesel-driven engines and his success gave rise to the famous TE-20, of which more than half a million were built in the UK. Ferguson will be remembered for bringing together two great engineering stories of our time, the tractor and the family car, agriculture and transport, both of which have contributed so richly to the well-being of mankind.
It’s funny, but when I talk about this business of my father and Valentina with my women friends, they’re absolutely appalled. They see a vulnerable old man who’s being exploited. Yet all the men I talk to—without any exception, Mike” (I wag my finger) “they respond with these wry knowing smiles, these little admiring chuckles. Oh, what a lad he is. What an achievement, pulling this much younger bird. Best of luck to him. Let him have his bit of fun.”
“You must admit, it’s done him good.”
“I don’t admit anything.”
(It’s much less satisfying arguing with Mike than with Vera or Pappa. He’s always so irritatingly reasonable.)
“Are you sure you’re not just being a bit puritanical?”
“Of course I’m not!” (So what if I am?) “It’s because he’s my father—I just want him to be grown up.”
“He is being grown up, in his way.”
“No he’s not, he’s being a lad. An eighty-four-year-old lad. You’re all being lads together. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. What a great pair of knockers. For goodness’ sake!” My voice has risen to a shriek.
“But you can see it’s doing him good, this new relationship. It’s breathed new life into him. Just goes to show that you’re never too old for love.”
“You mean for sex.”
“Well, maybe that as well. Your Dad is just hoping to fulfil every man’s dream—to lie in the arms of a beautiful younger woman.”
“Every man’s dream?”
That night Mike and I sleep in separate beds.
Pappa, just stop and think for a minute. Is this really what you want?”
“Hmm. What I want?” (he pronounces it ‘vat I vant’). “Of course to father such a child would be not straightforward. Technically it may be possible…”
The thought of my father having sex with this woman makes my stomach turn.
“…Snag is, hydraulic lift no longer fully functioning. But maybe with Valentina…”
He is lingering over this procreation scenario too much for my taste. Looking at it from different angles. Trying it for size, as it were. “…what do you think?
Nadia, if all women were to wear paint on their faces, just think, there could be no more natural selection. The inevitable result would be the uglification of the species. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?
Two phone calls and a funeral
Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blonde Ukrainian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade, churning up the murky water, bringing to the surface a sludge of sloughed-off memories, giving the family ghosts a kick up the backside.
It all started with a phone call.
My father's voice, quavery with excitement, crackles down the line.
"Good news, Nadezhda. I'm getting married!"
I remember the rush of blood to my head. Please let it be a joke! Oh, he's gone bonkers! Oh, you foolish old man! But I don't say any of those things.
"Oh, that's nice, Pappa," I say.
"Yes, yes. She is coming with her son from Ukraina. Ternopiol in Ukraina." Ukraina: he sighs, breathing in the remembered scent of mown hay and cherry blossom. But I catch the distinct synthetic whiff of New Russia.
Her name is Valentina, he tells me. But she is more like Venus. "Botticelli's Venus rising from waves. Golden hair. Charming eyes. Superior breasts. When you see her you will understand."
The grown-up me is indulgent. How sweet-this last late flowering of love. The daughter me is outraged. The traitor! The randy old beast! And our mother barely two years dead. I am angry and curious. I can't wait to see her-this woman who is usurping my mother.
"She sounds gorgeous. When can I meet her?"
"After marriage you can meet."
"I think it might be better if we could meet her first, don't you?"
"Why you want to meet? You not marrying her." (He knows something's not quite right, but he thinks he can get away with it.)
"But Pappa, have you really thought this through? It seems very sudden. I mean, she must be a lot younger than you."
I modulate my voice carefully, to conceal any signs of disapproval, like a worldly-wise adult dealing with a love struck adolescent.
"Thirty-six. She's thirty-six and I'm eighty four. So what?" (He pronounces it 'vat.')
There is a snap in his voice. He has anticipated this question.
"Well, it's quite an age difference. "
"Nadezhda, I never thought you would be so bourgeois." (He puts the emphasis on the last syllable - wah!)
"No, no." He has me on the defensive. "It's just that. there could be problems."
There will be no problems, says Pappa. He has anticipated all problems. He has known her for three months.