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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Lewycka, Marina: A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian

  Amazon  

4 stars

Nadezhda and Vera's 84-year-old father Nikolai has been a widower for two years when the voluptuous Valentina bursts into his life, wagging her breasts at him in her quest for a Visa. Nikolai is besotted with this bleached-blonde Ukrainian some fifty years his junior--not least because she favors him with access to her superb bosom--and he is intent on becoming her savior by marrying her. Nikolai's daughters, needless to say, are less than happy with their father's plan to replace their mother--a woman who survived the German occupation of Ukraine in World War II, who understood what it meant to stave off starvation--with this boil-in-the-bag gold digger. But there is little they can do to combat their determined father, who squanders his pension and happiness on the woman before he comes around, sort of, to their way of thinking.

Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian follows the story of the eccentric--or half-mad--Nikolai's unhappy second marriage and his daughter's attempts to minimize Valentina's hold over him. Interspersed in the story are snippets from the book Nikolai is writing, the history of tractors that gives Lewycka's book its title. There are also excurses on Ukrainian history and the history of Nadezhda and Vera's family in particular.

Lewycka's story is told from Nadezhda's perspective. She is ten years younger than her sister Vera and was born in entirely different circumstances, after the War had ended and her parents had made it to England. Her father's second marriage provides Nadezhda with the opportunity to dig up the truth about her family's past, the small dramas that her parents and sister kept hidden from the baby in the family by way of protecting her. In the end the book is more about what Nadezhda comes to understand about her family, in particular about her sister, than it is about the foolish extravagance of an old man. An interesting book for its unusual approach, and ultimately moving as Lewycka reveals how the sisters' very different experiences have come between them.

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