4 out of 4 stars
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I was pleasantly surprised when I read this book. The historical background of the Ukrainian Collective Farms and the Ukrainian "Problem" is dealt with superbly. The main characters are well portrayed and very easy to relate to, from Klem, through Halyna, to The Ginger Rasputin. The book is set over the Easter weekend, and is staged in Acts; one for each day of Easter. The celebration of Easter came as a bit of a shock, did people really do all night Easter services?
The book is mostly set is the small town of Bradford in England, against the background of Ukraine and the massive effects of the starvation and deprivation of the collectivisation and how it still affects their lives. The characterisation of the Ukrainian’s or “Uki’s” is brilliant. There are short visits to the Village of Chaplinka, in South-Eastern Ukraine, contrasting the life there to that in Bradford. The flatcaps and the headscarves defining the very essence of the men and women; through to the Ivans and the Russians, and the malodorous Aunts, and don’t forget the mothballs! I really did enjoy his characterisation. Each person had their own unique traits that were accepted and yet also pointed out or noticed in a very tongue in cheek manner by friends and acquaintances. This definition of people, even minor characters made them human and very believable.
The Ballet master, Taras, commands absolute perfection from his dancers, and gets it, with the help of his cane and his talent, and his ….. sock. He has a ballet to prepare for, and they will be perfect! Swan Lake has come to the Alhambra, and he is the Ballet Master. He is also the Barber, with a very empty barber shop, due to an unfortunate balding of a key client. The journey of the twins to Bradford is filled with memorable incidents that will make anyone laugh. Their smell that precedes them, and their very down to earth yet unreal behaviour is something you will never forget.
A light-hearted thought provoking look at a people clinging to its nationality and history. Klem and his infatuation with tea and the correct way of making it, his russian blue cat, the Dancing Master with the cane and a wife on strike, the hairy aunts, and the Ballet!
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars. It was well written, entertaining, and has some very humorous scenes. As Halyna says “Its Goodski!”
The Dancing Barber
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