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Two Caravans [Hardcover]

Marina Lewycka
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Mar 2007
In the idyll of the English countryside, on a beautiful summer's evening in a Kent field, and around their two caravans, a little group of strawberry pickers is getting ready to celebrate a birthday. But who picks our strawberries these days? The Ukrainians: Irina, just off the coach from Kiev, and eager to improve her excellent English and find true love with a romantic Englishman; Andriy, the miner's son from the other Ukraine; the Poles: Bob Dylan fan, Tomasz, (whose smelly trainers will soon punish those in the men's caravan), Yola, the petite, voluptuous gangmistress and her religious niece Marta, who finds the wild mushrooms to cook with the sliced loaf; then there is Vitaly, king of the new mobilfon world of the shiny new Eastern Europe; two Chinese girls; Emanuel, the round eyed eighteen-year-old from Malawi, come to England to look for his sister. And although he can't exactly help pick strawberries, there's also the Dog...But these are a group leading dangerous lives - exploitative employers, British regulations and gang masters with guns will all threaten their existence as they take to the caravan road until each of them peels off to find their destiny. Hilarious, gritty, moving, and slapstick by turns, "Two Caravans" has every bit of the extraordinary distinctiveness and wit and heart that made "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" so successful.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Fig Tree; First Edition edition (29 Mar 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670916374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670916375
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 14.1 x 22.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 299,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marina Lewycka was born in Kiel, Germany, after the war, and moved to England with her family when she was about a year old. Her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, has sold more than a million copies in the UK alone and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, longlisted for the Man Booker and won the Bollinger Everyman Prize for Comic Fiction and the Waverton Good Read Award. Her second novel, Two Caravans, was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Two Caravans and Marina's third and fourth novels, We Are All Made of Glue and Various Pets Alive and Dead are all available in Penguin. Marina Lewycka lives in Sheffield.

Product Description


Her last book was entertaining, but this one is better…Very buoyant, witty and informative (Peter Kemp The Sunday Times )

A great romp…with considerable heart and winsomeness (Literary Review )

Another black comedy masterpiece…an extraordinary, surprisingly funny tale (Easy Living )

Lewycka's heartfelt and funny novel packs as big a punch as any hard-hitting political polemic (Daily Mail )

Another winner from the author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Woman and Home )

Marina Lewycka has pulled off another story with a big heart (Daily Express )

An extremely funny book (Times Literary Supplement ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

`A great romp...with considerable heart and winsomeness'
Literary Review

`Heartfelt and funny...packs as big a punch as any hard-hitting political
polemic' Daily Mail

`Immensely appealing. All but sings with zest for life ... could hardly be
more engaging, shrewd and winningly perceptive' Sunday Times

`Hilarious and horrifying, Two Caravans is funny, clever and well-observed'

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
There is a field - a broad south-sloping field sitting astride a long hill that curves away into a secret leafy valley. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine book, but.......... 5 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is as good as her first book - a sometimes bleak and sometimes very funny story about the lives of Polish fruit pickers. The only thing is that it is the same book as Two Caravans, republished under a different title, which I already had. I think that this is a deplorable publishing tactic. If you haven't got it under either title, buy it - it's well worth a read. But don't get conned as I was.
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100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strwberry fields 14 Sep 2008
We made the mistake of buying this book and two caravans. They are identical just published under a different title.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and touching but drifted away at the end 29 Sep 2007
This book is dedicated to the Chinese migrant workers who died in Morcambe Bay several years ago which is a very touching gesture, showing the vulnerability of any illegal migrant worker, which includes many of the characters in the book.
I loved reading the odd preconceived ideas that the characters had of English people before they had got to know many and wondered whether much of this had been from the authors own experiences within the Ukrainian community.
There was also loads of action through the book which kept me tied to the page.
I had big expectations of "Tractors" before I read it due to the award nominations and publicity it had received and was ultimately disappointed. This book had not received a huge amount of publicity and I enjoyed it tremendously (not sure whether that is a genuine comment about the quality of the book or about measurement against expectations....)
The humour that was brought in was very clever, particularly considering the desperate working and living conditions.
A character from "Tractors" cleverly features in this book, although this was in no way a sequel.
The only disappointing part was the last 30 or so pages when the evironmental warrior characters are introduced. It seemed to me this was too late in a book to introduce a completely new set of people without the opportunity to develop them in any way - maybe the next book will be based around them.....
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great :( 10 Aug 2008
This book could have been great.I was completely wowed until about half way through when, as other reviewers have mentioned, most of the main characters disappear. At this point the story becomes a overly drawn-out love story between two characters. I was left feeling that Lewycka had two novels to write and tried to squash them unsuccessfully into one. The first was the better novel, a study of immigrant life in the UK. There are some really fascinating and humorous parts to this novel - the views of the immigrants on their new surroundings, their impressions of each other, the exploitation of workers etc. and the part about chicken farming will stay with me forever. The second novel was about the meetings of old and new Ukraine in the characters of Irena and Andriy. Also potentially very interesting, but perhaps not a funny read. I feel very disappointed for Lewycka. She has a lovely, engaging writing style and has some very interesting ideas, but this novel just ends up an incoherent jumble of ideas. Don't even start me on the not-very-scary, may-turn-up-anywhere gangster baddie!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 5 Jun 2008
I liked the Tractors very much, but I found Two Caravans to be a let down. The story goes all over the place and is not particularly funny. Some characters seems to disappear from the storyline whereas others keep coming back. Bits of the story are told from the Dog's point of view in "Dog language" others through the letters that a young African man sends to her sister, in his own quirky English. It just didn't work for me. It feels that throughout the story the writer was trying to hard at being funny. One good point about the book is that it gives a good insight as to what the (under)world of illegal workers is like in England these days.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly humorous. 29 April 2008
By kehs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a darkly humorous book, at times extremely poignant, at others almost slapstick, about some immigrants arriving in England to create a better life for themselves. Instead, they find themselves working for some very dodgy employers, and living in a caravan picking strawberries for a low wage. The women live in the smallest caravan, the men in the other, and together they form a small community. In this tale Lewycka has created some wonderful characters - and I was delighted to bump into Mr Mayevskyj again, from her Short History of Tractors book. There are a lot of issues covered in this story, from immigrants, to prostitution to battery farming, yet they all link together wonderfully well and form a page turning novel. The character of Dog is pure genius and I loved hearing his `voice'. I also loved the way that Irena, one of the main characters, kept comparing her romance to the storyline in War & Peace. Apparently, Lewycka got some of her inspiration for this book from The Canterbury Tales. I can see the link quite clearly because Two Tractors is also a group of people travelling and telling their own tales. I thoroughly enjoyed every word of this novel and highly recommend it.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, original and thought-provoking 31 May 2007
When I first started reading this book, I thought it would be a light-hearted, humourous and enjoyable read. Humourous and enjoyable it certainly is, although underneath is an interesting and at times pretty shocking social commentary about migrant workers in the UK, and although highly readable, you will be incensed about some of the things the author brings to light - you will certainly never look at supermarket produce in the same way again. I'm glad I read this book, its entertaining and original and certainly makes you sit up and think.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read
This was a Booke club choice - did not get past firt few pages. Not for me this one for me.
Published 7 days ago by Heather Evans
1.0 out of 5 stars Shocking and disturbing scenes - not for the faint hearted
This was described as "a great romp" - nothing could be further from the truth. I accept that there are some witty parts and there have been elements that I have greatly... Read more
Published 16 days ago by Julie Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars Really outstanding
Much better than Tractors in the Ukraine. Hilarious, tragic, brilliant, especially Dog.
Not even slightly preachy but anyone who cares about immigration should read it.
Published 2 months ago by Jo Tampoco
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book I want to start a fan club
I absolutely love this book especially the character of DOG. I have read the book three times now, and each time I have got to know and understand the characters better. Read more
Published 4 months ago by janehopetaylor
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic
This is one of the nicest and funniest read I have come across int he last few years. Lovely story, funny and very well written.
Published 6 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and lovley
Really enjoyed it, took to all the characters and although the end was rather unbelievable I donot think it spoilt it xxx
Published 7 months ago by Debra Bunting
5.0 out of 5 stars laugh
Although a little unsure as to this book at the start I found myself laughing most of the way through it....unbelieveable and yet it just has to be based on true facts....loved it.
Published 8 months ago by Jill Dian
5.0 out of 5 stars Fussy reader, satisfied!
I have become sadly hard to please where reading is concerned. The littlest thing can put me off a book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by M. B. L. Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favourite books!
Once you start reading and get into it, you won't want to stop! I find it hard to concentrate on reading and keeping motivated but I read this book very quickly. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Londoner
1.0 out of 5 stars I have no idea what this book was trying to be.
This book was selected as a choice to be read by the book club I belong to. It was chosen as it got good reviews as being hilarious amongst other things. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Girlie book worm
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