Customer Reviews


13 Reviews
5 star:
 (6)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars facinating account of a property in Catalunya
I have visited this little visited part of northern spain and loved its unusual "grand canyon" like geography. The book completely captured the nature of the coutry, its history and people. The massive task of restoring L'Venc has just the right detail to draw you on so that you felt part of the team and longed for its success. Although Matthew says it is is...
Published on 22 Nov. 2005 by D Littler

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
This was an interesting read about doing up this ancient house, however, I would have liked more photos and descriptions of how the work was done. There are a few black and white photos but it is not really a book about how to do it.
Published on 27 Oct. 2009 by john


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars facinating account of a property in Catalunya, 22 Nov. 2005
By 
D Littler (Huddersfield, Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Hardcover)
I have visited this little visited part of northern spain and loved its unusual "grand canyon" like geography. The book completely captured the nature of the coutry, its history and people. The massive task of restoring L'Venc has just the right detail to draw you on so that you felt part of the team and longed for its success. Although Matthew says it is is not a travel book. I am off to see the place first chance I get.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, and more, 22 Jun. 2007
By 
Cymraeg1951 (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Hardcover)
This is an enchanting story, about a spectacular house, in a magical location - in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees. Having enjoyed reading Parris's periodic articles about the restoration of this property in 'The Times' between 1999 and 2006, I nevertheless approached this book with a degree of caution - mindful of the old saw that 'a journalist never lets the truth get in the way of a good story'. My caution was misplaced. Unlike Peter Mayle, et al, Parris has both feet planted firmly in the real world. Having fallen in love with this mysterious and majestic old house through the pages of his book, I visited it for a short holiday in June 2007. I discovered that the book is indeed non-fiction, and 100% honest and true to life. It was the holiday of a lifetime, which I unreservedly recommend to all except members of the 'disco brigade'. A stunning location, blissful views, unspoilt medieval villages, and walking trails without equal. Although it feels a world away from the UK tourist trail, 'L'Avenc' is only a 90 minute drive from Barcelona and the Costa Brava. Read the book and visit one of the delightful and very high standard holiday cottages which adjoin the old house. You will not be disappointed!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A place I'd like to visit, 15 Aug. 2010
By 
M. K. Burton - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Hardcover)
One spring morning in Catalunya, Matthew Parris came across an awesome sight; a large, moldering, old house that immediately spoke to him. Clearly medieval and once high status and in the process of remodeling, the house had been left to sit and rot for at least fifty years. It was called L'Avenc; virtually everyone in the small nearby town knew about it and thought its slow destruction was sad, but none of them was going to save it. So Parris, his sister Belinda and her husband, and her husband's brother put together the money and purchased the house themselves. The remodelling took longer and was more expensive than any of them had imagined, but their goal to save the house kept them going through catastrophe after catastrophe.

I've seen it bandied about that this entire book is mostly an advertisement for the holiday cottages Parris and his family built alongside the house, but I thought it was quite a lot more than that, especially considering I didn't even realize that you could stay there until halfway through the book. (Of course, I want to now, so if it was an advertisement, it worked.) I loved the fact that these four people took on this medieval house. One of them did research into its origins and found out the various stages of its actual construction; parts of it date from the 12th century. Anyone who spends hundreds of thousands to rescue a medieval house is awesome, and this book truly gets across the author's love for this house and its character.

He also conveys the vast difficulty, sometimes seemingly insurmountable, of actually restoring the house. The roof was falling in, the floors were rotting away, and there were no plumbing, electricity, or telephone lines. The construction went on for years, hampered by legal difficulties and an angry neighbor who cut off the family's water supply and refused to reinstate it. It's not even finished when the book is, although I think it must be by now.

A Castle in Spain is also partly travelogue, with Parris extoling the virtues of various parts of Catalunya (also spelled Catalonia). He expresses plenty of regret that people mostly visit Spain to go to cramped beaches and cities instead of exploring the beauty of its interior, Catalunya in particular. I must admit that despite my recent interest in travelogues, I found these parts a bit boring. I would love to visit Spain, but I am not sure Parris's writing style is that suited to it, and I found his discussions of the house much more interesting.

This book is a very interesting tale of a family and a mission, with some history and culture thrown in for good measure. It is perhaps not the most standout of its genre, but it certainly made me curious about the area. I wish I could actually afford one of the holiday cottages, if only to see it all myself in person. Recommended if you like travelogues, memoirs, and old, crumbling houses. It seems to be out of print, but used copies are about for fairly low prices.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ALMOST A CASTLE IN THE AIR, 17 Aug. 2006
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Paperback)
A lot more than an account of how an spectacularly-situated, isolated mansion in Catalonia was rescued from dereliction. Parris uses that enormous project as the centrepiece for a heart-felt tribute to an unfamiliar Spanish locale. His style is highly visual and his family's local knowledge extraordinary. Thus the book avoids, by a distance, the trappings of the eccentric-Brit.-bloody-foreigner narrative.

The financing of this enormous restoration project is rather mysterious, and a ground plan of the mansion would help. But there's an overwelming sense of rediscovered dignity in a special place.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It changed my mind, 18 Oct. 2006
By 
MarkE (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Paperback)
Unlike other reviewers, I was not looking for a guide to restoring houses (in Spain or anywhere), but was interested in Matthew Paris' view on an area he knows well and where he has family connections. My main reason for buying was having enjoyed Parris' other writings but this book has sparked my curiosity about an area I knew nothing about, and have avoided as being too close to the most "touristy" parts of Spain. I have had my error pointed out, and now intend to correct it by visiting as soon as possible
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A genuine good read., 19 Feb. 2014
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Audio CD)
I enjoyed the book immensely, and wanted to buy some copies for my Catalan friends as gifts. ( I have lived in Catalunya for the past 11 years. I thought that it would be nice to also include the audio book (read by the author himself) so they could read it and listen at the same time. Luckily I decided to listen to it myself first - otherwise they may well have lynched me! The pronunciation of Catalan place names was appalling and REALLY got on my nerves. Montseny became Montseni, Vic - Beak on so on. If you have never been to Catalunya and don't plan on ever going there, this small lapse of preparation won't matter a jot, listen on and enjoy the audiobook. However if you have been there, or plan on visiting it - stick with the book - because it's brilliant!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, 27 Oct. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Paperback)
This was an interesting read about doing up this ancient house, however, I would have liked more photos and descriptions of how the work was done. There are a few black and white photos but it is not really a book about how to do it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Revised edition with new features, 9 April 2012
By 
Adam Macia Parris "the tree lover" (Catalunya (not spain)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Hardcover)
Revised edition with new features.

There is a new edition of the book that will be on sale in May 2012, and I've been able to read it, as I'm Matthew Parris's nephew. It's good as this new edition includes a floor plan of the project, an added preface and a new last chapter. It brings the story up-to-date and hopefully answers some of the questions readers may have had while reading the original book as well as illustrating the recovery of the house with a carefully drawn and detailed floor plan. Also if you are interested in visiting, look at house website:
[...] (.cat for Catalunya, not the animal, haha)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A Castle in Spain, 29 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Paperback)
Fabulous book written by Matthew Parris, describing his obsession and passion for this beautiful house l'Avenc. After reading this and on my last visit to Spain in October 2011 I had to see this place for myself and my friend and I drove from Girona into the Collsacabra hills north of Barcelona. What an amazing place and I can see why he and his family had the obsession to restore l'Avenc to its former glory, the views are out of this world. Well done!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Read, 23 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: A Castle in Spain (Hardcover)
My Son and his family and friends went to stay in a accommodation near to the house L'Avenc and visited it.Reading the book and seeing the photos they took while they where there made it more interesting and enjoyable to read. This was a book that would have have made a excellent TV documentary.Thanks MATTHEW PARRIS for sharing you dream.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

A Castle in Spain
A Castle in Spain by Matthew Parris (Paperback - 4 May 2006)
Used & New from: £0.01
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews