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The Factory of Light: Tales from My Andalucian Village Paperback – 26 Apr 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; New edition edition (26 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719561736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719561733
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 96,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'The Factory of Light is an intelligent, beguiling story, and Michael Jacobs writes with a sly humour and real affection and understanding for his chosen region that eclipses most other writers of the genre.' (Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat)

'This rusticana a la Espagnola is a heartwarming and informative narrative. It should be read by everyone thinking of buying a house in Spain' (Independent)

'Humorous, touching and dramatic, Factory of Light is a refreshing alternative to the current wave of 'moving to the Med' travelogues, from a skilled writer with a deep knowledge of and concern for, his subject' (Paul Morrison, Wanderlust)

'Jacobs is worth reading for his appetite for the wry, the ironic and the grotesque' (Anthony Sattin, Sunday Times)

'The particular strength of this eloquent, unhurried tale is its depiction of the author's friendship with El Sereno... Theirs is a winning Quixote-Panza double act' (Miranda France, Daily Telegraph 2003-07-12)

'A welcome reminder that close encounters of the Mediterranean kind don't have to be all froth' (Sunday Times 2003-07-12)

'He writes ... with insight, tenderness and wit' (Sunday Times 2004-09-12)

'The descriptions of events and encounters burst with vividness and energy' (Oxford Mail 2003-06-13)

About the Author

Michael Jacobs was born in Italy and studied Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, from which he has a doctorate. His numerous books include 'Andalucia', 'Between Hopes and Memories: A Spanish Journey' and most recently 'Alhambra'. He has also translated a number of Spanish and Latin American plays. He is a member of the Andalucian Academy of Gastronomy and in 2002 was made the first foreign knight of 'The Very Noble and Illustrious Order of the Wooden Spoon'. When not in Spain, he lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Juan Ant Diaz Lopez on 29 May 2006
Format: Paperback
I am a specialist on travel literature on Spain, and since I read the first book of Michael Jacobs, I had the feeling he was one of the greatest travel literature writers in English. Spain and Andalusia have been his major themes, and his guide Andalusia, is a compulsory reading. His book on the Alhambra is impressive, and since he started writing readers have the feeling that after Borrow, Ford, Morris and Gerald Brenan, Michael Jacobs is the present of travel literature on Spain. A proof of that is The Factory of Light. A book that contains the story of a group of characters in Frailes, a small village of the unknown province of Jaen, told as a piece of magic realism, mixed with a special sense of humour, and echoing styles that go from Swift to Brenan, from Valle Inclán to Borrow, but giving to the whole a special touch of his own. A witty, moving, exciting, funny book, that makes the reader eager to know the real characters behind the literary portraits. This is literature, good travel literature.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jacqueline Rae on 16 May 2006
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to understand how anyone with a sensitivity to literature and Spain could not fall in love with this remarkably funny, moving and profound book, which was rightly shortlisted for the 25th Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and should have won. The author's deep understanding of Spain shines through on every page, as does his immense sympathy for human beings. As the book developes, the story becomes ever more engrossing and fast-paced, culminating in a climax as exciting and bizarre as any I have read. It is surely the finest book to have been written on Andalucia since Gerald Brenan's South from Granada, and one of the best and most subversive books ever about an Englishman's adaptation to the Mediterranean world.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Cox on 9 May 2003
Format: Hardcover
Michael Jacobs' "Factory of Light" is a welcome antidote to the drearily predictable 'making a go of it abroad' genre, with its identikit plots that could be set in any sunny, Mediterranean country . Essentially, this is an extended love letter to the village of Frailes, which Jacobs has adopted as his own, and which has returned the compliment. His deep understanding and knowledge of Spain and the Spanish, and his limitless curiosity and enthusiasm for the remarkable people he encounters shines from every page. In a sense, this is a study of how extraordinary the ordinary can be. It's witty, wise, poignant and wonderfully life-affirming.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Victoria Noble on 6 Dec. 2003
Format: Hardcover
I happen to come from the area in Spain in which Michael Jacob's book is set and it could not be funnier or realistic. In 'The Factory of Light' one can learn about what life is like in a village in southern Spain away from all the touristy areas. Characters and everyday happenings are so well described that I even recognised one of the characters! I seriously recommend that you read this book although you must be warned: it will be very difficult to tear yourself away as you become inmersed by Jacob's thrilling and quickly-paced life in Frailes, the village where he first decides to spend a few weeks.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robert T. C. Goodwin on 31 May 2006
Format: Paperback
Jacobs presents himself as a slightly deranged, romantic character, while simultaneously managing a sharp-witted authorial presence, well aware of the embarassment of ironies wrapped up in the Factory of Light. He communes with the hectically material, intellectually envigorating, and bafflingly spiritual world of his neighbours in an un-picturesque village in a remote and unfashionable corner of Andalusia. Living above the village disco, which has no customers, he embarks on various quixotic adventures- with picaresque charm, often in the company of a Sanchoesque father figure. All is doomed to fail, but his purpose seems to be to engage with the friends he makes along the way, rather than to do anything obviously useful and there is more than a hint of geriatric nihilism to confound the youthful energy with which he approaches the potentially banal.

Which is all most unlike other modern books about finding nirvana through the terribly bourgeois past time of renovating run-down property in rural southern Europe, reconfirming the timeless stereotypes such as gypsies, bullfighters, and a pedestrian peasant way of life. Better still, Jacobs' book is refreshingly free of the usual army of condescendingly insular middle-class English drop outs who usually populate such books and the places about which they are written and have done since Gerald Brennan invited his astonishingly disagreable friends to the Alpujarras in the 1930s.

It is a very funny story, but the humour runs much deeper in this book, especially in the irony with which he deflates our own expectations of this often unimaginative genre.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lolo Loveca on 7 July 2006
Format: Paperback
I have lived all my life in rural Spain, and have never read a book that captures so brilliantly the feel of an Andalucian village. But what makes this book so particularly memorable is the author's ability to go beyond the description of the everyday to create a world that is truly magical
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the summer of 1999 the then 46-year old Michael Jacobs, a life-long lover of Spain, was back in the country looking for a place at short notice which he and three English friends in Seville might rent for the month of August and where he might concentrate on translating a play by Lope de Vega. The only place which was available was a house in the small and remote village of Frailes, in the province of Jaen. Jacobs took it sight unseen. When he got there, he found the scenery absolutely ravishing and as yet undiscovered by the tourist industry: a villager told him that he was the first foreigner ever to have stayed in Frailes. Initially, he found village itself physically lacking in character, but he quickly discovered that its people were warm and friendly, and we have vivid descriptions of them. They take him to their heart, eat and drink with him, quickly realizing that he is as convivial as they are. It is not long before he shares their feeling that Frailes and its neighbourhood are very special, and groups of them take him to explore its countryside and buildings. The latter are described in excessive detail, perhaps justified because he is always shown every nook and cranny, even the smallest or most intimate of rooms. He learns about the tradition of faith-healing in the village and the veneration of its most famous practitioner, the late Santo Custodio who had died in 1961, and he comes to feel that there was something truly magical - indeed spiritual - about the atmosphere there, and he has a mystical feeling that he had been destined to go of Frailes. He has very little time on his own to do his translation, but when he does, the difficulties he had had in translating the subtle and difficult text dissolve - it was almost as if the play was writing itself.Read more ›
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