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Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia Paperback – 3 Jun 1999

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sort Of Books; First Edition edition (3 Jun. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0953522709
  • ISBN-13: 978-0953522705
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (397 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 401,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

Amazon Review

All Provenced out? Then head further south, to the breathtaking mountainous climes of Andalucia. Just don't be squeamish about driving over lemons. Chris Stewart, skilled sheep-shearer and sometime Genesis drummer, took one look at the Alpujarrás, the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and decided that's where he wanted to be. This is the story of his adventures coming to terms with the terrain, the lifestyle and, of course, the locals, who possess all the rugged, homespun charm you'd expect. Stewart soon discovers all the hidden foibles of his bargain purchase, and spends the following year (rendered here in detail) installing the little luxuries of life like, say, water.

However, just when you're worrying that all this might degenerate into a rose-tinted Englishman-finds-nature idyll, Chris's wife enters the fray. Nonsense-free, straight-talking and relentlessly unsentimental, Ada should be a required resource for all travel writers. Ada gets bored with the fake machismo of pig-killing, Ada sees through the selfless "help" of the natives, Ada calls a peasant a peasant. With her on board, Stewart has the perfect counterbalance to his declared optimism, and Driving over Lemons becomes a loving but clear-sighted encomium, economically and wittily written, to a wonderful part of the world. --Alan Stewart

Review

A wonderful book - funny, affectionate, no hint of patronage, a true portrait of place, and people, reaching deep beneath the skin. Tuck it into your holiday luggage and dream. (Elizabeth Luard Daily Mail)

Exquisite ... in Driving Over Lemons the anecdote

flourishes once more, Stewart's briskly robust style

and lack of pretension keep the book rolling along

(Penelope Lively Daily Telegraph)

A humble and enchanting account...Chris Stewart is one of life's bold originals. (Christina Hardyment Independent)

A lyrical portrait of a couple integrating themselves into one of Europe's most beautiful regions. Stewart's writing conveys his amiability...and he has a particularly good ear for dialogue. (Anthony Sattin Sunday Times)

When an author is as modest and humorous as this, his story cannot be told too often. (Elizabeth Buchan The Times)

A funny, observant and personal account of what a man can learn, and what there is to appreciate in life. Marvellous. (John S. Doyle Sunday Tribune)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 94 people found the following review helpful By C Hyde on 30 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
When one thinks of English in Spain, you automatically assume Frank Butcher types in tight Speedo trunks loitering drunk in Lineker's Bar and eating fry-ups all day.
Chris Stewart and his wife Ana are Ex-Pats, but with a difference. Rather than trying to make Spain English, they left these shore to adapt to the Spanish agricultural lifestyle, and enjoy the atmosphere on their new property in Las Alpajurras.
The book brings together a sentiment of blissful happiness, and you can almost smell the lemon blossom on the front cover.
I enjoyed this book as much as I did 'Mukiwa', by Peter Godwin, but without any of the poigniancy and heartache felt in Godwin's work.
A fantastic read, well worth 5 stars.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this expecting a variation on the "Year in Provence" theme and found I was totally wrong. The Englishman abroad idea was still the basis of the book however, there the similarity ended. Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia is much more beievable and real. There is no feeling that the stories have been elaborated or embroidered. You sense a commitment to the simplicity of this way of life and that despite the popularity of the novel the family will not be "selling out" on this lifestyle. At the end I felt as though I had experienced the ups and downs of the first years with him. Whilst I came away knowing I would have hated it in many ways I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. Highly recommended and compulsive reading.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent narrative of Chris,Ana and latterly Chloe and their adventure buying a remote farm and adapting to living in Southern Spain. Not a taxing read by any means and this is indeed to its credit.The writing style of Chris Stewart is simple but sincere.Whether you are sitting at home reading this book in the mid of winter or in the summer sun on your holiday, this is a fantastic book. The subject of this book could have been so mediocre and boring: The reality is a book as fresh as the lemons they drove over! Do not miss it!
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Victor Hardbattle on 4 May 2004
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book, purely on impulse, whilst waiting at Manchester Airport. My companion had holidayed on the Costas on a number of occasions, but this was to be my first visit to Andalucia. We had booked to spend a fortnight in what was described in the brochure as "a typical spanish village house in a remote setting amongst the foothills of the Alpujara mountains", and neither of us was at all sure what to expect from the countryside and the people we would be meeting there.
We quickly settled in to our temporary new home and I opened the pages of "Driving Over Lemons" at the side of our little swimming pool on the outskirts of Durcal, a short drive south of Granada, with high mountains providing a dramatic backdrop.
Ten minutes or so later I realised with a start that amongst those mountains lay the location of Mr Stewart's book.
Long before I reached the end of the book I felt "at home" in Andalusia, confident of what I could expect from this wonderful place.
Oh, this is not a traveller's guidebook, (though the author has, in fact, written those, too). It is a story about a man and his family coming to terms with a dream, and about making a place for themselves within that dream. It is a story of an Englishman learning to live amongst the countryside and the people of Andalucia.
If you are planning to take a Spanish holiday away from the beaches of Southern Spain, you will find this book, and its sequel "A Parrot in the Pepper Tree" to be as essntial as your sun-lotion, and you must buy a copy!
If, on the other hand, you are NOT planning such a trip, I suggest that you buy the book anyway! You will find it almost as good as a real holiday in the sun - and as you turn the last page, I'd not be surprised to learn that you learn that you felt the urge to book a trip to see these lovely mountains and villages for yourself.
A most enjoyable and informative story, and I urge you to read it!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
Chris Stewart can never be discouraged, not even when everything seems to go wrong. Maybe his secret is to discover again those things that really matter in life, and friendship above everything. All this happens in a lovely setting in the mountains, where Nature can be beautiful but also demanding and even merciless. And the cast of characters, in the shape of both long-time neighbours and casual acquaintances, is a countinous source of surprises and enjoyment.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By ceejayblue on 5 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
I ordered this book with one of your £5 vouchers that I had won in a competition. This was an excellent read and was full of humour and evoked a wonderful feeling of knowing all the locals personally. As someone who loves the Spanish way of life it only served to make me more determined to get to my goal and move there. Chris Stewart's desriptions of the area and the local people were not airey fairy but was full of love and humour and shows that it is possible for an English family to move into the "wilds" of Spain and fit in, rather than congregating along the coast and only mixing with the ex-pat community. I would recommend this book to anyone and have done! It really was an excellent read and I look forward to the next volume.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 10 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
Which isn't actually an entirely bad thing. I was recommended this book by a friend of mine, who evidently knows me better than I thought. Chris Stewart, the somewhat knaive eternal optimist, paints a vivid, radiant picture of what life is like for a foreigner living in Andalucia, while his wife interjects every now and again, bringing him back down to earth with a bump.
This is a fantastic, heartwarming autobiographical tale which will appeal to that little escapist inside all of us that secretly longs to get away from modern life and go and run a farm. Gently amusing, but never trying too hard, this is one of the best books I've read in a very long time
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