From the bestselling author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian North London in the twenty-first century: a place where a son will swiftly adopt an old lady and take her home from hospital to impersonate his dear departed mother, rather than lose the council flat. A time of golden job opportunities, though you might have to dress up as a coffee bean or work as an intern at an undertaker or put up with champagne and posh French dinners while your boss hits on you. A place rich in language - whether it's Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Swahili or buxom housing officers talking managementese. A place where husbands go absent without leave and councillors sacrifice cherry orchards at the altar of new builds. Marina Lewycka is back in this hilarious, farcical, tender novel of modern issues and manners.
I don't really like farces and misunderstandings, which even though they are obvious, no one seems to care about. So I wasn't sure I was going to like this book. I requested it on the basis of Marina Lewycka's first book, which I never got around to reading and everyone raved about.
The plot is rather far fetched in fact it is probably further than out than that! I decided to just go with it and see what happened.
Berthold invites Inna to live with him and pretend to be his dead Mother. I must say that Inna was a fabulous character. It took me a while to understand her dialect - as she urged everyone to "it it" which I worked out to mean "eat it".
Inna played the part of Mother very well, despite being confused about who she was meant to be, in fact maybe she isn't confused at all but rather astute. Then there is the council official who she must convince that she is Berthold's Mother, can she do it?........
In amongst all of this are other characters with microcosms of life being displayed and dissected by the author. Each of the stories plays out on its own, but comes back to be a part of the story of Berthold and Inna.
A very clever book which has more depth to it than you maybe realise when reading it. Only afterwards did I look back and truly appreciate how insightful it was, whilst also being entertaining.
Oh and those misunderstandings - seems some of them knew all along and were just going along with it so that helped with my need for order.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars.
My thanks go to Netgalley for a copy of this book to review.