First published: 2008
Page count: 320
Page count: 320
The back says: The follow up to her hugely popular first novel presents a Canterbury Tales inspired picaresque that is also a biting satire of economic exploitation. When a ragtag international crew of migrant workers is forced to flee the strawberry fields they have been working in, they set off across England looking for employment. Displaying the same sense of compassion, social outrage, and gift for hilarity that she showed in A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka chronicles their bumpy road trip with a tender affection for her downtrodden characters and their search for a taste of the good life.
I say: It’s been a couple of months since I read this, and although it was never destined to inspire a long review, I feel that the words I now have left about it probably won’t convey my initial reaction. My initial reaction being exasperation.
Yes, I do realise that this is meant to be a comedy with social commentary. Yes, I do realise that this, at the same time, is fiction and should be taken lightly. But no, I just did not have any patience for the ridiculously improbable escapades Lewycka put her characters through.
Characters that all were such stereotypical caricatures I felt embarrassed reading them.
I have previously pointed out the issues I’ve had with Lewycka’s prose, and I fear I encountered the exact same issues here. It took me about 3 weeks to force my way through, and I feel no better having read it than I would had I just abandoned it after they left the strawberry field.
The narration rotates between the characters, which I have no issue of, other than the fact that even the dog is represented; which struck me as
3/5 because of the letters Emmanuel was writing to his sister (however unbelievably naïve he was portrayed).