by Marina Lewycka
Despite the title, tractors are not the central theme of this book, although they do play a part.
It is two years since the death of their mother, and for sisters Vera and Nedezhda, the only thing they have left in common is their father. We very quickly learn that this is no ordinary family and he is no ordinary father. There is no real love between the surviving members, particularly the sisters who fight continually about everything. That is until the day their 84 year-old father announces he is to marry a 34 year-old Ukrainian divorcee.
What follows is a witty and at times downright hilarious romp as the sisters come together to try to prevent the marriage.
The characters are wonderfully portrayed and the twists and turns of the plot border on the outrageous.
And yes, there are tractors, but only in a good way!
Told with compassion and wit, this is as good a debut as you could ask for. Whilst sympathising with Nad, who tells the story, I felt a real empathy for her poor father. He is permanently confused by modern life and has never really understood other people and their feelings. He is a very independent and practical man in many ways, but we find that he was totally dependent on his wife and is now very much adrift in a word beyond his control.
This book has received a lot of praise in the reviews I read, and it deserves them all. It is a great book that I enjoyed thoroughly.