Anyone contemplating running a fruit farm in Spain would do well to read Peter Kerr's Mañana, Mañana
, which describes how he left Scotland with his wife and two wary sons to set up a little valley farm growing oranges in the Mallorcan countryside.
Far from being an idyllic option in "tranquilo" surroundings, the family have to work hard to survive and the gaps in their accumulated knowledge soon become apparent. Of immediate concern, for instance, is their seemingly healthy orange orchard which turns out to be riddled with diseases. Thankfully, however, the Kerr's wise neighbour Pepe--who aligns all farming tasks to the phases of the moon--intervenes and strips down the trees so that they and the family's fortune again become viable. Indeed, there is no shortage of well-meaning advisors to guide the Kerrs through and past the pitfalls they encounter: cackling, good-natured Maria with her increasingly strange selection of old wives tales (does burning donkey manure really keep away mosquitoes?); Jordi, who prides himself on his alcohol intake and knowledge about the local traffic police; Scottish Jock, who can lead them through the convoluted "Mañana, Mañana" attitude of the bureaucracy.
Throughout, as in his previous book, Snowball Oranges, Kerr excels in his character descriptions. He populates the book with vivid and likeable personalities and the family's relationships with these colourful people are often the cue to lively and hilarious adventures: rampaging pigs, eventful boat trips, dogs with strange fetishes. The expected malapropisms are genuinely funny and unexpected too--all contributing to a narrative with a generous helping of laugh-out-loud moments.
However, what really distinguishes Mañana, Mañana, apart from its well-drawn and interesting characters, is its honesty and realism. The sunshine and fun is balanced by some dark moments when the family wonder if they have done the right thing and, consequently, the writing never seems smug or self-assured--just a record of a likable family trying to make the most of a new way of life. Not forgetting that all the while the beautiful and majestic Mallorcan countryside lies in wait in the background, ready to charm the reader just as it has the Kerr family... --Christina McLoughlin
"Kerr's writing evokes a spirit of place that will appeal to both
armchair travelers and vacationers."
-- Publishers Weekly (USA)
"Scotland's top travel writer"
-- Writer's Forum, October 2007
'captures the Mallorcan landscape and character' ... 'funnier, grittier and more textured than Mayle's best-selling book' -- BOOKPAGE, USA, July 03
A colourful story about simple family life in Majorca. -- ABTA Magazine, November 2001
A great read for anyone, whether fans of travel of not. -- M2 Best Books
An easy to read, light-hearted look at Mallorcan life and culture... -- The Scottish Farmer, July 2001
An engaging account of tranquilo life. -- Island Sun, 11 August 2001
Engaging, humorous account of Mallorcan life from the author of Snowball Oranges. -- Puertopollensa.com. March, 2007
Kerr has an ability reminiscent of D.H.Lawrence to capture the overwhelming oppressive feel of physical fatigue on a hot day. -- Monocle Magazine
Tells the story of Peter Kerr's familiy's sometimes comic adventures as Spanish orange growers. -- The Sunday Express, January 2002