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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

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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


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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine book, but.........., 5 Oct. 2009
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Mr. K. H. Cobb (UK) - See all my reviews
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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.
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100 of 102 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strwberry fields, 14 Sept. 2008
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Mr. Charles Salisbury "the frog" (kent / hesdin france) - See all my reviews
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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.
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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 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!!!
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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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ordeals of immigrant casual workers, 30 April 2008
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Two Caravans (Paperback)
Marina Lewycka continues to mine the seam she opened up in A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, of immigrants (mainly from Eastern Europe, but also some from China and Africa) coming to Britain - this time to earn money picking strawberries, working on a chicken farm, in a restaurant etc. The book shows how these immigrant workers are exploited: passports confiscated by the crooked and violent agents (Eastern European themselves), miserable wages, diminished by extortionate deductions for all sorts of things, including for the rent of the most awful accommodation. Very often migrant workers also cheat compatriots who trust them, and the prejudices that citizens of one East European country have for those of a neighbouring country are also well brought out. Illegal migrants from outside the EU who pretend to be legal immigrants from EU countries (e.g. Brazilians claiming to be Portuguese) are particularly vulnerable, as the gang masters well know. There is a horrific description of the way chickens are treated in battery farms.

As in Tractors, the sombre nature of their ordeals is `lightened' by humour, though I didn't think the book was nearly as funny as the earlier book. There is again the hilariously fractured English spoken by some of the immigrants, though one of the girls, Irina, speaks remarkably good English. (She is the only character whose story is told in the first person.) The book focuses in turn on eight particular workers (and, very tediously, on the thoughts of a dog who follows them around), but the characterization is fairly shallow, certainly compared with the richness of the four central characters in Tractors. Being young, a lot of their thoughts are about sex (the naive Malawian, who had been educated by Catholic nuns, is eager to acquire canal - sic - knowledge; the letters he writes home to his sister are a lovely blend of high-flown language and delicious errors); and there is a stop-go love-story about bourgeois Irina from the anti-Russian Western Ukraine and working-class Andriy from the Donbas mining region in the pro-Russian Eastern Ukraine.

The novel also has some of the characteristics of a road movie, as the characters travel up and down England in vans or caravans and meet up with various English `characters'. Towards the end, in a rather attractive section, they fall in with a group of tree-hut-dwelling eco-warriors. Less credible are the number of occasions when, in different parts of England, they run into the same sinister exploiters.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly humorous., 29 April 2008
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kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Atmosphere just right, plot and characterisation a bit weak, 4 Dec. 2007
By 
Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Two Caravans (Hardcover)
As someone working professionally on issues facing migrant workers, I approached this second novel from Marina Lewycka with eager anticipation. In terms of capturing the vulnerable migrant labourer's lot, the book chimes with elements I know - the not infrequently gouging employer, the cheek-by-jowl lives in substandard accommodation - to create a credible mood to the novel. It's unfortunate, then, that the plot and characterisation didn't quite live up to the ambience. Some characters - frustratingly - disappear halfway through without really developing, almost as though the author didn't quite know what to do with them. Others lurch from one appalling job to another - the poultry processing plant was a magnificently drawn, many-circled Dante-esque hell, both for the chickens and the workers. Characters undergo crises: in some cases these are poorly signposted in advance, although the malevolence of pursuing traffickers keeps things moving along tautly enough. In short, a memorable, even gripping read, but one that ultimately comes up some way short of perfection.
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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.
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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
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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..
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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
By 
E. Harper - See all my reviews
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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.
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Two Caravans
Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka (Paperback - 1 Mar. 2012)
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