And so a couple more book reviews, or if you like two. This is, look you see, all very stuck record, but once again I bemoan the removal of public transport of consequence from where I live, for it has robbed me of a few hours of reading time each week.
A look at the front cover of the two novels which I read? Surely, and it is my most earnest hope that they appear the right way around – sorry, took the images with an Apple device and thus Blogger might well take exception to the rotation.
Something of a quick, spoiler free review? Certainly, as far as I can. Pyramid by Tom Martin is an agreeable “ancient mystery solved in days” tale that would have benefited from a different title, and I am in two or so minds about A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka.
In respect of the all important provenance of the novels, both cost me 50p each. They were donated to a hospital which I have had reason to visit frequently, as were several other books I’ve picked up for the same modest fee and will get around to reading. This I highlight so that book readers, or if you like readers of books, know if they didn’t before to visit hospitals, libraries, doctors offices and so forth in order to get texts at bargain prices and, perhaps more importantly, help good causes. I would also encourage all to donate books which they have read to such places. I do, as much as it was hard to give up having a library as such.
That said, for ease, for convenience and for people reading this around the world, links to the books are from the world’s grocer. This is no endorsement or affiliation. And, as ever, be warned, for spoilers are quite likely to lurk in everything from here on out.
Pyramid by Tom Martin was the first one that I read of the two, so that is where I will start, then. I picked it up as it looked like fairly easy reading (medium to large text, sensible short chapters), and everything about it screamed “if you liked Da Vinci Code you will get on just fine with this”.
Plot? A brilliant professor is barbarically murdered. His death is, however, reported as suicide. Catherine, a former pupil and now closest friend, does not believe the report. The disbelief is justified when a parcel from the professor, sent just days before his death, arrives, giving instruction on what to do should something happen to him. This she does in the company of a fellow called James, who just happened to be visiting the professor and elects to go on a relatively global quest with Catherine. Well, she is rather good looking.
It’s quite good. A lot of it is colour by numbers, as all the ingredients are there – shady organization that’s the most powerful in the world, riddles unsolved for thousands of years are worked out in minutes, etc – but they work just as well here as they do in the realm of Dan Brown. One suggestion would have been a different title and different cover. Any possible suspense at points when the two are travelling the world getting shot at kind of doesn’t exist as you know where the story ends up.
That said, it is rather well written, and the “great mystery” premise behind this one is, although likely preposterous, something new to me and fun to read about. Worth a try if you, as would be the case for me, enjoy all of this hidden / secret history concept stuff.
A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian are, as said at the start, mixed. On a superficial, read it and take it as it is level, it was kind of enjoyable. Well, enjoyable in the sense of an idyllic, so-called middle class presentation of life seemingly free of the standard worries. Think an 80s ITV sitcom, say Fresh Fields, but with Ukrainian Immigrants rather than Esher or Berkshire born and raised suburban types.
Plot? An 84 year old, in the grand scheme of things recently widowed Ukrainian gent living in Peterborough elects to marry a fellow 34 year old Ukrainian. This is to help her remain in England, and in part as she allows he to “fiddle” with her. His daughters, both close or near to their 50s, are horrified by what they see as their father being taken advantage of – even if he knows this and willingly carries on anyway. Much of the novel then deals with the two sisters trying to save their father from himself. It’s narrated by the younger of the two, Nadezhda.
The rather flippant, flimsy, almost whimsical slant that this apparently light-hearted family looking farce is presumably supposed to have is undermined somewhat by mixed signals from the writer. In amongst the fun are hints at horrors experienced in the Ukraine by the family members old enough to have been there during World War II. These hints are never followed up or explored. They then serve only to leave a quite uncomfortable distraction for the reader – me at the least – and manage to make character development or understanding sensationally underwhelming.
My reading was of course subjective. Considering the living hell what the British Government made life for me, a born and raised English type who never ever gave up his citizenship, as I tried to come home, I somewhat disagree with the helpful and supportive nature with which such business is presented here. This novel was, in its defence, written before Theresa May seized power in the Home Office, where she first started openly waging war against the British public. Me in particular.
Would I recommend A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian? No. It’s not badly written and at times it is fun, but there are too many distractions and mixed messages in the story to leave you with a clear idea of how you’re supposed to feel about it. I have no idea at all as to what I have, or was even supposed to, take away from the experience of the novel.
And so there you have it. Looking back I get a feeling that I am perhaps not as enthusiastic about these books as was the case with other reads of late. That, sadly, would seem to be fair. Whilst there’s no regrets about reading either, they are overall not two books I would suggest should be read by all as soon as possible.
An audience, or if you like market, exists for both. If these comments have helped you clock that you are part of the intended market for either, well then so much the better. And thanks, as ever, for reading.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!