Customer Reviews


128 Reviews
5 star:
 (45)
4 star:
 (33)
3 star:
 (19)
2 star:
 (15)
1 star:
 (16)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine book, but..........
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...
Published on 5 Oct 2009 by Mr. K. H. Cobb

versus
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great :(
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...
Published on 10 Aug 2008 by Orisumacdu


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine book, but.........., 5 Oct 2009
By 
Mr. K. H. Cobb (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Strawberry Fields (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strwberry fields, 14 Sep 2008
By 
Mr. Charles Salisbury "the frog" (kent / hesdin france) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strawberry Fields (Hardcover)
We made the mistake of buying this book and two caravans. They are identical just published under a different title.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


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
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Two Caravans (Hardcover)
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.....
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been great :(, 10 Aug 2008
This review is from: Two Caravans (Hardcover)
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!!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 5 Jun 2008
This review is from: Two Caravans (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly humorous., 29 April 2008
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Two Caravans (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, original and thought-provoking, 31 May 2007
By 
E. Harper - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Two Caravans (Hardcover)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "We are all God's creatures", 28 Aug 2007
This review is from: Strawberry Fields (Hardcover)
Weaving a Pandora's box of themes and ideas into her novel, Marina Lewycka's Strawberry Fields begins in a field in rural England where a group of immigrant seasonal agricultural workers spend their days picking ripening strawberries on a ramshackle farm. Run by the officious Farmer Leapish, the farm has workers that have come from all corners of the world, including Poland Ukraine, Africa and China.

Supervised by the bossy Yola, whose main aim is to ensure that this community lives in sexual harmony, the farm is a hardscrabble world where the women always earn less than the men and where Leapish is more concerned with working with the grain of human nature to maximize both productivity and yield, than to look after the well-being of his employees.

Apart from the officious Yola the collection of workers is varied and eclectic. There's Yola's big nosed niece Marta, and two Chinese girls, and also Irina who has just arrived from Kiev, tired and disheveled, "with a faint whiff of chip fat about her." Meanwhile, the poor forty-something Thomasz, with hair to his shoulders and stringy beard, feels as though his life is just slipping away, even as Emanuel an African catholic lyrically sings his religious songs.

Orbiting all of them is Andriy, a miner's son from Donbas still haunted by the mine disaster in which he survived but where his beloved father died. What at first seems like a mild infatuation with the pure and rather snobbish Irina soon develops into a full blown romance as all of the workers are forced to flee after an accident leaves Leapish injured and Yola worrying about the police.

What develops is a type of road story, part of a clever plot that twists and turns as this group of characters travel all over the United Kingdom working in nursing homes and restaurant kitchens and getting themselves involved in all sorts of misadventures, especially when they reconnect with fellow strawberry picker Vitaly who has dissolved into a new smoothly confident businessman who now slips effortlessly between Polish and English.

A shady "recruitment consultant," Vitaly offers up "dynamic employment solutions," convincing his colleagues that working in such places as a chicken processing plant will finally give them all the opportunity to earn plenty of "good English money." Things, however, fall apart, and the delicate balance of the group is upset when Irina is separated from Andriy and she goes on the run and outside of everything in a world where nobody wants her.

Meanwhile, the poor Andriy accompanied by his pet dog, is constantly consumed by the memories his dead dad and the fact that all his dreams and ideals are dead with him, the solidarity, humanity, and the self-respect in this new world that is now run by entrepreneurial "mobilfonmen."

When they finally goes their separate ways, we get to see their true resourcefulness as they eat what they can and sleep where they lay, and what ensues is a complicated brew of exploitation as the new arrivals, the confused, the desperate, and the greedy are taken advantage by all of these self-made middle men who tap into other people's labor, and get rich on harvesting the efforts these innocent fragments of globalized labor.

The novel is intricately structured as Lewycka weaves in her characters' Ukrainian past with their lives on the run. She also constantly introduces new characters like the disgusting farm owner Boris, who tries to seduce Irina in exchange for work, covering her with slimy kisses, and Neil, who works at the chicken processing plant, laughing and joking in front of Thomasz as he slaughters the animals that submit meekly to the daily horror while packed in a small stinking room.

Others are like Vulk, who wears a horrible black fake-leather jacket like a comic-strip gangster, and who makes a living exploiting his own kind. As many of these characters spin off into the ether, some meet a nasty end and others help these workers along in their search across the country as they wait for their luck to change or for their time to run out.

The journey of these workers is certainly defined with momentary triumphs and false steps and the book emerges as a type of guide for new immigrants who are intent to do battle in this newly formed global economy where the West seems intent on abuse and exploitation. Obviously, there are no easy answers to the questions posed in this novel, but the issues give Lewycka a chance to explore, in the sardonic exchanges between the characters, many of the issues that interest her.

If Strawberry Fields sometimes lacks the tightly plotted precision of Lewycka's previous novel, it certainly makes up for it with its ambitious structure. The novel is indeed a complex study of the globalized world and the current labor market in developed counties, and its examination of the many migrant workers and asylum seekers who come from every strife-torn corner makes for a compelling, and at times, absolutely heart-rendering case. Mike Leonard August 07.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh read, 20 May 2008
This review is from: Two Caravans (Paperback)
I havent read the other book by Marina Lewycka but i will definately look it up after reading this little gem!. I liked the interwoven stories about the different characters and especially loved the dog! as other people have mentioned the desciption of the chicken farm is very harrowing but i guess true. I have dropped a star purely because i'd liked to of known what ultimately happened to the Chinese girls and i thought it was a bit convienant how some of the characters came face to face again at the end (i wont mention specifics as i dont want to ruin anything). Go on read it, you'd be glad you did.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic- black comedy..made my cry, 30 Mar 2008
By 
Miss Slade - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Two Caravans (Paperback)
I thought this book was fabulous..it had me hooked from the first few pages and gave me an insight into a world I have little experience of...unlike other reviewers I don't think any of the characters were stereotypical and it revealed an ugly side of Britain that is only ever hinted at in the tabloid press- this gave it a human edge...and boy the section on the battery farming really hit home...have already donated to a battery hen charity...it will change your views on chicken farming forever....made me cry!
Loved how the character from her first book was interwoven into this story..
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 213 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Two Caravans
Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka (Paperback - 1 Mar 2012)
7.19
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews