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The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka
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The Lubetkin Legacy

by Marina Lewycka

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Berthold Sidebottom is a middle-aged failed actor living with his mother in a large council flat in a North London block designed by Berthold Lubetkin. However when his mother dies Berthold is in danger of losing the tenancy and comes up with a radical plan, inviting a casual acquaintance of his mother's, Inna, into the flat. Inna is Ukrainian and takes over Berthold's life. Meanwhile, in the next door flat, Kenyan Violet is struggling with the morals of her job working in Wealth Management. When the Council decides to redevelop the grounds around the block of flats the residents are drawn together to save the legacy of Lubetkin's vision.

As with all Lewycka's books the superficial comedy can be stripped away to reveal serious social issues. Here there are many, the common themes of immigration and corruption are explored from many perspectives. Inna is a comic character with a tragic backstory, Berthold is a failure who sees a renaissance and Violet realises her values are more important than success and money. Whilst Berthold's mother only appears at the start of the story she is a huge influence on all. Beautifully written, entertaining but also thought provoking, I really loved this book. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
so... the farcical elements of this novel made the book silly for me, instead of funny and engaging. it was all a bit over-the-top, which would have worked had the story been weighted down a bit more solidly. the characters were caricatures, instead of a fully fleshed out cast. marina lewycka is a fine writer and i totally enjoyed A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. unfortunately, the lubetkin legacy was a disappointment for me.

this review in the guardian sums up how i felt: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/02/lubetkin-legacy-marina-lewycka-review ( )
  Booktrovert | Apr 19, 2017 |
I've enjoyed Marina Lewycka's other books, especially Various Pets Alive and Dead, so was looking forward to reading this one. As usual, it's a complete farce from start to finish, with some bizarre characters, including the obligatory Ukrainian. In The Lubetkin Legacy, we follow Berthold Sidebottom, an out of work actor who was born on the same day as George Clooney (inevitable comparisons ensue). He lives in a block of flats in London which was designed by Berthold Lubetkin (who he was named after) with his mother but when she falls ill he starts to worry about the bedroom tax. There's also Violet, a young Kenyan woman who discovers corruption in her home country through her new job in the city. She lives next door to Berthold.

This is quite a chaotic book, and having got to the end I sort of find myself wondering what it was all for, but the cast of characters and the bizarre goings-on made this such a readable and enjoyable book. Marina Lewycka has such a way with words. One scene had me laughing hysterically at the turn of events.

I really enjoyed this comedic and clever story. ( )
  nicx27 | Aug 29, 2016 |
Marina Lewycka has written a kind of slapstick comedy in words. I found myself laughing out loud on a number of occasions. At times however that 'slapstickness' makes for unbelieveable situations challenging one's ability to suspend disbelief.

The author has created a very real situation based around one of Lubetkin's apartment buildings built in London - I went into Wikipedia to see if he really did design a building at Madeley Court! Madeley Road exists in London W5 but Madeley Court is definitely a work of fiction but a very convincing one.The community living in Madeley Court is very real too and the author has a real ability to write so that you can hear the voices of the characters.

While I found the cherry trees and the campaign to save them engaging, I felt that in the end they disappeared 'not with a bang but a whimper' - maybe that is what happens - people lose the energy to fight these battles. Maybe it was a device to focus the reader on growths in relationships e.g. Berthold with Mrs Penny....? The cutting down of the trees seemed to be the sacrifice to be paid for Berthold getting an acting part and the impetus for Inna to leave.

Similarly the plans of the building found by Berthold and personally annotated by Lubetkin, didn't really go anywhere to my mind. The author has chosen to leave us with the thought that there was a relationship between the architect and Lily - Berthold's mother. It just seems a bit far-fetched that he should have left the flat to her in perpetuity.

The altercation in Hampstead with the oligarch's hired man and the gun just seemed a bit far-fetched to me as a plot device. The dog Monty could have simply been killed when he ran onto the road instead of having to be shot.

It seemed too that the author wanted to cover some themes such as the multi-cultural nature of the London and links back to home countries. Violet's experience in Nairobi was interesting but was it necessary.

A good read but with caveats. ( )
  louis69 | Jun 26, 2016 |
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Review will be added later.
  crisana | Jun 2, 2016 |
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Hopeless failed actor Berthold is exactly the same age as George Clooney (they share a birthday), but still lives with his mum. When he realises at her deathbed that he may lose his mother's lovely council flat, built in the 1960s by celebrated architect Lubetkin, he niftily adopts the old lady in the hospital bed next door and takes her home to impersonate his mum. That's when all the trouble begins!… (more)

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