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When big-boned, eager-to-please, accident-prone Taras Krohe ambles into a stiff English public school on a puzzling scholarship with his funny foreign name, an eccentric and over-protective Bukovinian mother, and no father at all, disappointment beckons.

A decade later, Taras and his mother are still living off their benefactress Mrs Bartlett in a cramped South London flat, while Taras's promising job has warped into a Kafkaesque nightmare, and his truculent Russian girlfriend has decamped with a ponytailed aesthete. When the mysterious Mrs Bartlett dies, an old schoolfriend with a grudge emerges and eviction looms. Now even the terminally easygoing Taras must show his mother he's a man, and uncover the secret behind his family's plummet into disaster. But she has other ideas for her little pourchi: she's determined to wrestle him away from the dangerous influences his search reveals. And it's by no means certain who will come out on top . . .

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