Marina Lewycka is one of those novelists whose reviews never quite reflect their huge popularity with actual readers. I managed to miss her bestselling A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, but I did review her second novel, Two Caravans, and found it tiresomely filled with warmth, ‘uplift’, slightly twee humour, and all the other elements that make up your classic, comfy book-club read.
Various Pets Alive and Dead is another irritatingly cosy title, and the publishers are very keen to sell it to us as a hilarious domestic comedy. This novel, however, contains a lot more roughage than Two Caravans. Lewycka is exploring the tension between individual morality and the