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Two Caravans

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  5,037 Ratings  ·  494 Reviews
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
Published by Fig Tree (first published 2007)
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Jun 10, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a respectable follow-up from her first book, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. I don't know why I'd describe it as light, when it involves prostitution, minimum wage, exploitation of 'unskilled' workers, not to mention the battery chicken farm episode which has put me off eating poultry for at least the next week. The East European accents may grate after a while, and some of the charming illegal immigrant workers are bordering on stereotypes, as are the pantomime baddies. But th ...more
I think Lewycka is incredible - she manages to write a novel about illegal immigrants, prostitution, exploitation, battery farming chickens... and make it funny without ever diminishing the horror - in fact it's because it's fun that we don't turn away or stop reading because it's unbearable.

I thought the characters were wonderful and varied and the scenes more likely to win people over than a mass of outraged journalism or cold statistics. And the characters just go on living - the humour does
Jul 04, 2008 Talya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story explores the experiences of a random group of Eastern European immigrant workers in the UK. It very cleverly captures the changes that have occurred in the UK over the last 5 years since Europe started expanding into the East. I also like the way the book is written in the voice of all of the characters involved (except for the dog which is just plain stupid). I was thoroughly confused by all of the comments that covered the book from the press about how it was "hilarious", "the funni ...more
Mar 10, 2012 Cate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this. I think it is a stronger story and more interestingly written & structured than the History of Tractors book (read in Spain, 2006, but that's a complete aside). Sure, this is whimisical with migrant workers picking strawberries in Kent, living in caravans: but there's a dark undercurrent to the tale. Exploitation, poor working conditions, Eastern Euro cultures struggling to part from the communist past but taking with them the worst excesses of capitalism. I saw the book as ver ...more
John Martin
Nov 06, 2011 John Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book ticked a lot of boxes for me. I loved it.
It's not the easiest read owing to the mix of third-person and first-person points-of-view (one of the first person POVs is that of a dog - first-canine perhaps?).
But it's certainly worth sticking to it because it allows the reader to get inside a number of heads and find out what makes them tick and see the world through their eyes through the filter of their knowledge.
This books plumbs the depths and goes to some squallid places that can make
Apr 25, 2010 Joanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnificent! Utterly charming, relentlessly thought-provoking, delightfully fashioned. The story of a rag-tag company of immigrant strawberry pickers is told via a kaleidescope of tale-tellers. Each character, including a mythically perfect dog named Dog, has a distinctive voice and a strong world view. Each character is flawed, but each takes a turn narrating and showing the reader the world as he or she sees it. It is a world full of happiness and beauty much loved, side by side with horrific ...more
Not quite as good as the author's first novel, but still very engaging. Written in the tradition of Ilf's and Petrov's satirical novels (The Twelve Chairs and The Golden Calf). The reviewers who have criticized Marina Lewycka don't know HOW to read a novel: any novel needs to be read within the tradition(s)it comes from. When Lewycka introduces a lot of characters whom she later abandons, she follows the above tradition, whose goal is to depict a panoramic view of the society at a certain moment ...more
I enjoyed her "Short history of Tractors" probably because my family has links with the Ukraine, and many migrants both to and from the UK, so that parts of the dialogue, the attitudes and the problems resonated with me.
Many of the reviews here seemed to criticise that book for not dealing with the present immigrant wave from the Eastern European countries, so that in this book Lewycka seems to have tried to address all those current problems from EE thugs, exploitation in illegal immigration,
Jan 10, 2011 Shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 12, 2016 Lavinia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, in-en, 2016
Several years ago I listened to Lewycka read from this book and I thought I was going to like it a lot. It starts very promising, with a bunch of strawberry pickers in UK (mainly Eastern Europeans, but also African and Chinese, quite a diverse cast, Hollywood should learn from this, lol), but then they part ways and the novel goes in too many different directions ("too much plenty", to quote one of the characters), some people are dropped in the first third of the novel (really, what happened to ...more
Perrin Pring
First, let me say, that despite what the cover of Two Caravans says, this book is not hilarious, nor is it funny. In fact, it is mostly sad and depressing. I can see that Two Caravans tries to be funny, but it fails for four major reasons.

One: The characters are rather flat and cliched.
Two: The subject matter isn't funny.
Three: It is trying way too hard - the dog's dialogue, I didn't even read it.
Four: Any book that explains, in detail, the killing of chickens (and other animals) isn't funny. It
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
breve storia dello sfruttamento delle masse socialiste al di fuori del loro paese

giovani ucraini, polacchi, africani e cinesi alla ricerca di un lavoro in Inghilterra...inutile dire che finiranno a raccogliere fragole nei campi per pochi spiccioli ai quali verranno detratti i "costi" per il vitto e l'alloggio

la prosa è semplice e leggera, ma il dramma raccontato è reale e non so proprio come questo si possa alleggerire parlandone come di una specie di favola

l'alchimia del primo libro non si è ri
Oct 25, 2013 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this, I can't believe I've owned 'A short history...' for years but never bothered to read it, Lewycka is a wonderful writer!! It sounds strange but I found this novel to be a lovely light hearted read although it dealt with issues like consumerism, prostitution, illegal immigrants, mass produced GMO food. I think Lewycka had a lot to say about the Western world and she managed to get her points across whilst telling an entertaining story. The characters clicked with me straight ...more
Amanda Patterson
Jul 31, 2011 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it
Funny, clever writing.You will remember this book long after you've read the last page. Lewycka manages to write about terrible things with a light touch.
Two Caravans is all about illegal immigrants, prostitution and exploitation. And she manages to make it funny so that we carry on reading all the way to the end.
May 31, 2009 Marja rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ridiculous, stereotypical, condescending characterisation, stupid plot points and some very bad video-game like "here's your mission in this chapter" exposition, and the humour didn't work for me. On the whole, a very disappointing, if readable, book. Though I guess it's good somebody's writing approachable stuff about this subject.
Dec 20, 2008 Gerund rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: immigrant-lit
Like the strawberries that bring together its disparate characters, Marina Lewycka's Two Caravans is both sweet and tart, with a persistant aftertaste that rather unsettles the stomach even as it leaves you hungry for more.
The 61-year-old Briton of Ukranian heritage scored a runaway hit with her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005). About two sisters who struggle to free their senile Ukrainian immigrant father from the clutches of a gold-digging compatriot, it won the Bo
Dec 30, 2008 Andika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buku ini bercerita tentang sekelompok pekerja imigran yang bekerja di perkebunan stroberi di Inggris. Mereka berasal dari berbagai macam benua. Tokoh utamanya, Andriy dan Irina, berasal dari Ukraina. Juga imigran dari Polandia, negara yang kini sudah bergabung dengan Uni Eropa sehingga status imigrannya legal, Tomas, Marta, dan Yola. Ada Emanuel dari Malawi. Dua gadis beretnis Cina, yang satu dari Cina dan yang lainnya dari Malaysia. Mereka semua masing-masing datang ke Inggris dengan harapannya ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Наталія rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Про книжки Марини Левицької начута добрими відгуками, відтак і сама вирішила ознайомитися. Томик «Два фургони» видали у вид-ві Факт ще в далекому 2008 році. Власне вони нахабно здурили читача обкладинкою книжки, бо ж не можна уявити собі щось більш дисонанснішого аніж вінтажне зображення якоїсь американської сім'ї з рамці з полуниці з тим, що ховається під палітуркою. Уявилося що весь роман може стати або тягомотиною з ретельними описами того, як наші герої проводять кожен день на полуничних пол ...more
Ultimamente leggo libri bellissimi quanto tristi: questo in particolare mi ha colpito molto per la leggerezza e allo stesso tempo la profondità con cui tratta un tema difficile come quello dello sfruttamento dei lavoratori stagionali.

Irina arriva in Inghilterra dall'Ucraina, dopo un viaggio infinito in pullman: il suo sogno è quello di migliorare il suo inglese scolastico e di conoscere dal vero il Paese che ha imparato ad amare sui libri. Finisce a raccogliere fragole presso un fattore viscido
Oct 31, 2014 Tasnime rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
'Immensely appealing. All but sings with zest for life...could hardly be more engaging, shrewd and winningly perceptive' Sunday Times

'Extremely funny, closely observed insights, scenes of farce, tragedy and horror' The Times Literary Supplement

'Hilarious and horrifying, Two Caravans is funny, clever and well observed' Guardian

I think not. This is by far the worst book I read this year. ِContrary to the reviews on the cover of Two Caravans, this book was not funny at all, not engaging at all and
Mar 18, 2012 Elimaus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Two Caravans is the third book I’ve read by the author and sadly, my second disappointing read. I wholly enjoyed her first offering, but since then I haven’t been able to relate to the characters at all. Yeah, they’re interesting and all, but I’m just not that into them. The over-excited quotes on the cover don't help either. Yes, it's amusing, but 'hilarious'? Not really.

Here, the author has totally lost the warmth of the original characters. You can feel that they aren’t written from the autho
Nov 08, 2009 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an hilarious and often thought provoking read. The way in which people and chickens are treated is terrible, and makes this a rather darker story than A history of tractors in Ukrainian. A collection of economic migrants meet in a strawberry field somewhere in Kent, and are housed in the two caravans of the title. What follows is an often hilarious road trip, after a bit of trouble with the farmer and his wife, Andriy, (the Ukrainian) Tomasz, Yola, Marta,(the poles) Emmanuel, ...more
Sep 29, 2007 Alyssa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i started this and wasn't really compelled to finish reading it until i was stuck in an airport without anything else to read. and that's when i unfortunately came to the bit about the chicken farm, and it spoiled the whole book for me. yes, i already know that chicken farming/processing is not pleasant or humane. that's why i read books like fast food nation, buy free range organic chicken, etc. i don't expect to have to read about it in an otherwise very 'light' book (and it wasn't necessary f ...more
Gerald Sinstadt
The curse of the second novel. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian was deservedly a best-seller, short-listed for all the best literary prizes. Casting around for a sequel can't have been easy. Marina Lewycka chooses to stay with eastern European immigrants in England, but fails to deliver the narrative cohesion that Peterborough and its close-knit family environment provided for the earlier book.

Two Caravans is close to being an untidy mess. Too many themes, too many ill-defined character
Oct 22, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il libro ci mette un po' a decollare, ma quando lo fa non vorresti far altro che seguire il virtuoso Andrij e l'ingenua Irina nella loro corsa attraverso l'Inghilterra. Un libro insolito, che tratta un tema molto discusso, quello dell'immigrazione clandestina. E lo fa con leggerezza, ironia e naturalezza, offrendoci uno spaccato comunque molto realistico e a tratti crudo di quello che tante persone sono costrette a subire e sopportare nella vana illusione - o speranza - di un futuro migliore, lo ...more
Apr 10, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I read 'A History of Tractors', by the same author, a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it, but alas remember little of it -the story didn't stay with me. This one will.

From a scene which had me laughing out loud to one that horrified me all in the space of a paragraph. Following a band of 'immigrants' and their lives 'taking advantage' of the English system.

Anyone who eats and enjoys supermarket bought chicken should read this and weep. Anyone who brands non-native workers as sponging immigran
Aug 03, 2014 Neal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cp-reading-group
A fascinating book that I am reading in tandem with Steinbeck's The a Grapes of Wrath. The story follows a very diverse group of migrants -- Ukranian, African, Polish, Chinese -- working in modern day English agriculture. The parallels with certain aspects of US migrant agricultural work are intriguing especially given the different nature of the nationalities and motivations making up the groups in the two different countries. The book itself has a wonderful dark humor which provides a vehicle ...more
Apr 08, 2012 Fionnuala rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marina Lewycka likes to weave a variety of themes into her very funny stories, sometimes successfully, as in A Short History of Tractors in Ukranien, sometimes less so, as in We Are All Made of Glue but she succeeds wonderfully in this novel, Two Caravans. Here, she covers pretty much the same subjects as Rose Tremain a few years ago in The Road Home but Lewycka's version is much more readable. They both feature migrant workers, mostly from eastern Europe, working for market gardeners, poultry f ...more
Dec 24, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up because I was pretty fond of "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" (who doesn't love that title?) and I keep going back and forth as to which I liked better. I think this one tries to be more and suffers a little clunkiness as a result. It takes a while to get going and the point of view shifts can be a little confusing sometimes. However, I think it manages to hit a higher cruising altitude, even if it does reach a little beyond what it hits. I also thought of "The Jun ...more
Oct 08, 2010 Lorrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think that this book will be one that stays with me because a story is a powerful way to convey a message. Some of the messages are issues that I feel strongly about such as abuse of immigrants or using individuals as "human chattel" not people but merchandise. I can't eat chicken yet after that description of the chicken farm, so I think that she was a wonderful story teller and had a message to convey better that an expose book might have achieved.

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Marina Lewycka is a British novelist of Ukrainian origin, currently living in Sheffield, England.

Lewycka was born in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany after World War II. Her family then moved to England where she now lives. She was educated at Keele University and works as a lecturer in media studies at Sheffield Hallam University.

In addition to her fiction, Lewycka has written a number of books gi
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“A man needs less, no more. ” 10 likes
“With a feeling of despondency so intense that it was almost pleasurable, he got out his guitar.
So this was to be his condition now.What was he but a fragment of broken churned-up
humanity washed up on this faraway shore? This was where his journey had brought him....
There mus be a song in this...”
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