Lewycka's second book was first published in the UK as "Two Caravans"; and later in the USA and elsewhere as
From the author of the international bestseller A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian comes a tender and hilarious novel about a crew of migrant workers from three continents who are forced to flee their English strawberry field for a journey across all of England in pursuit of their various dreams of a better future.
Somewhere in the heart of the green and pleasant land called England is a valley filled with strawberries. A group of migrant workers, who hail from Eastern Europe, China, and Africa have come here to harvest them for delivery to British supermarkets, and end up living in two small trailer homes, a men's trailer and a woman's trailer. They are all seeking a better life (and in their different ways they are also, of course, looking for love) and they've come to England, some legally, some illegally, to find it. They are supervised-some would say exploited-by Farmer Leaping, a red-faced Englishman who treats everyone equally except for the Polish woman named Yola, the boss of the crew, who favors him with her charms in exchange for something a little extra on the side. But the two are discreet, and all is harmonious in this cozy vale-until the evening when Farmer Leaping's wife comes upon him and Yola and does what any woman would do in this situation: She runs him down in her red sports car. By the time the police arrive the migrant workers have piled into one of the trailer homes and hightailed it out of their little arcadia, thus setting off one of the most enchanting, merry, and moving picaresque journeys across the length and breadth of England since Chaucer's pilgrims set off to Canterbury.
Along the way, the workers' fantasies about England keep rudely bumping into the ignominious, brutal, and sometimes dangerous realities of life on the margins for immigrants in the new globalized labor market. Some of them meet terrible ends, some give up and go back home, but for those who manage to hang in for the full course of this madcap ride, the rewards-like the strawberries-prove awfully sweet-especially for the young Ukrainians from opposite sides of the tracks, Andriy and Irina, whose initial mutual irritation blossoms into love.
There is a field - a broad south-sloping field sitting astride a long hill that
curves away into a secret leafy valley. It is sheltered by dense hedges of
hawthorn and hazel threaded through with wild roses and evening-scented
honeysuckle. In the mornings, a light breeze carries up over The Downs, just
enough to kiss the air with the fresh salty tang of the English Channel. In
fact so delightful is the air that, sitting up here, you might think you were in
paradise. And in the field are two trailers, a mens trailer and a womens
If this were really the Garden of Eden, though, there ought to be an apple tree, thinks Yola. But it is the Garden of England, and the field is full of ripening strawberries. And instead of a snake, they have the Dumpling.
Sitting on the step of the womens trailer, painting her toenails fuchsia pink, petite, voluptuous Yola watches the Dumplings Land Rover pull in through the gate at the ...
Strawberry Fields is an impossible book to sum up - Lewycka plays with language and the miscommunication between cultures as she bounces her characters from slapstick to sitcom. They encounter gangsters and guns, strawberries and more strawberries, factory-farms and fishermen, eco-warriors living in trees and social activists, and even, briefly, Mr Mayevskyj (from A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian), along they way they are cheated and defeated; but those who emerge at the end do so a little wiser; as does the reader.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (1112 words).
Europe and the European Union
The dynamics between and the characters in Strawberry Fields stems from their perceived social class in their own country but also from the standing of their country in Europe, or more specifically, within the European Union.
Europe has changed beyond recognition in the past 30 years, as this series of maps illustrates: 1914, 1937, 1970, Current. Today, Europe consists of 48 countries (...
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