This is a bad soap drama: full of caricatures, gossipy, protracted. Angry phone calls, family intrigues and sex-related gossip pepper each weekly episode — err, chapter. Strange, because in Lewycka’s other book, Two Caravans, I wasn’t so bothered by the caricatures, and I found the book funny overall.
The story is interlaced by some history about Ukraine, as told by one of the characters, but also this is quite shallow. No matter how awful the 1932 famine that Stalin orchestrated really was (and I’ve read about it in more seriously minded books: awful is a euphemism for what happened there), it is out of place in this novel, and cannot possibly improve it.
I stopped reading after a hundred or so pages.