Saturday, 25 June 2011
Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka
A few weeks ago I was travelling by train through Kent, the Garden of England. I saw the strawberry fields and through a gap in a hedge I was completely taken aback to see row after row after row of caravans. A whole field on the side of a hill had been given over to them.
I hadn't realised when I picked up this book how much this would come back, almost to haunt me. Although the book is described as hilarious, I think there's far more tragedy than comedy in it. Whether intended or not, it's a social commentary on migrant workers, on battery farming methods, on human trafficking. It follows the story of a mixed group of workers in Kent, then on to London and finally, briefly, Sheffield.
I was close to giving up early on in the book, partly because I didn't much care for the characters and the story didn't grab me, but I'm glad now that I persisted. I'll never look at strawberries or chicken portions in the same way again.