Often farcical, fast-paced and packed with laugh-out-loud cameos, this story of an aging Romeo struggling to crown his old age with the triumph of a new, young and voluptuous wife is a compulsive read. Don't think that this is all froth and no substance however, for Nikolai Mayevskyj may be a lascivious old goat but he has been an aircraft engineer, designer and maker of tractors, philosopher and refugee from the Ukraine of the Second World War.
He is also writing a book about tractors but probably his greatest gift is to be a survivor. The juxtaposition of his two daughters in the battle against Valentina, his blonde paramour, reveals the layers of family misapprehensions which have accumulated over the years and driven Vera and Nadezhda apart.
Despite the satire there is the serious sub-text of the history of Ukrainian experience to give body and purpose to the novel, and poetic descriptions of the countryside. Reading groups will find several themes to provoke further discussion and I think this book will be enjoyed by male and female readers.