Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Various Pets Alive and Dead by Marina Lewycka


Paperback : 366 pages 
Genre: Literary Humurous Fiction 
Publisher: Penguin 2012
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentences: 'The world world is deranged, though most people haven't noticed yet.'

Review Quote'Wonderfully funny . . . a dizzy, eye-watering treat . . . Lewycka is somewhere between Hilary Mantel in her satirical mode and Sue Townsend' Independent
My Opinion Deftly combines serious issues with her talent for the humorous.

Monica Lewycka's fourth novel is written in that same distinctive style that has become her trademark and once again deftly combines serious issues with her talent for the humorous. In this novel her theme is the opposing lifestyle of hippie free thinking parents in comparison to the capitalist lifestyle of one of their children.

The protagonists are Doro and Marcus retired teachers who lived in a commune from the late 60's to the early 90's and brought up their children to embrace the free love and relaxed living. The three siblings Serge, Clara and Oolie Anna have not turned out quite as expected though. Serge is  not studying at Cambridge for a Phd as they think, but living the capitalist lifestyle that they so oppose.  Clara has followed in their footsteps in that she has become a teacher but she has a passion for cleanliness and tidiness, whilst the youngest daughter who has Downs Syndrome is keen to be allowed to lead an independent life.

In her unique style of combining the farcical with ordinary life she has cleverly used the numerous animals that feature to give this novel a very witty title.

I recommend the work of this author and if you have enjoyed her previous novels will be surprised if you do not enjoy this one.

Marina Lewycka - Various Pets Alive and Dead   Link to video of the author reading an extract

Links to my reviews of Marina Lewycka's earlier novels.

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Two Caravans  published as Strawberry Fields in North America.
We Are All Made of Glue

Author Profile

Marina Lewycka is of Ukrainian origin and was born in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany in 1946 shortly after World War II ended. Her family subsequently moved to England when she was about a year old, she now lives in Sheffield, Yorkshire. She graduated from Keele University in 1968 with BA in English and Philosophy and from the University of York with a BPhil in English Literature in 1969. She began, but did not complete, a PhD at King's College London. She was a lecturer in media studies at Sheffield Hallam University until her retirement in March 2012. Having spent much of her life trying to become a writer she finally succeeded in 2005 with A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian which has sold more than a million copies in the UK alone. This was followed by Two Caravans in March 2007, We Are All Made of Glue in July 2009 and Various Pets Alive and Dead last year. I have included this link to  the personal biography on her website as it makes delightful reading.  Marina Lewycka Biography.

Photo,Biographical and Video Information is with thanks to the following sites where you can also find out more about the author and her writing. 

Wikipedia - Marina Lewycka    Author's Official Website   You Tube Video


  1. Thank you for highlighting this book! I thoroughly enjoyed A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian so I shall keep my eyes open for this one. :-)

    1. I am delighted you have added the title to your to read list. :)

  2. Interesting information about the book and author.. thanks for sharing.

    1. Genuine interest or just a way of drawing attention to your own site by spamming? I hope it was the former.

  3. Sounds like a very interesting book, Lindy!

  4. I'd never heard of this author but the book sounds like a good read!

    1. It is indeed, maybe a new author for you to enjoy Jenny.

  5. I have never heard of this author but it sounds good, will keep a wee eye out


    1. I will be so pleased if you decide to read this Lainy.


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