Nobody who, like me, enjoyed Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian will, I think, fail to take pleasure in this book. A surprising number of people I came across couldn't abide Short History, however, and I suspect that they will hate Two Caravans for all the same reasons. One of Lewycka's strong suits is charm – and one person's charming is another person's irritating.
Lewycka has a strong and distinctive comic style, and it's the continuation of that style – farcical happenings; foreigners talking in funny accents; an underlying sweetness – that makes the two books so similar. In fact, as a sort of private joke, we even meet a character from the previous novel late on in this one.
The action opens in the strawberry fields of Kent, where a handful of illegal migrants are working off the books as strawberry pickers for a small farmer. He houses them in a pair of dilapidated caravans (one for the girls, one for the boys), feeds them on bread and jam,