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VINE VOICEon 11 June 2003
I did not read the preceding book "Driving Over Lemons", so I was coming into this authors writing blind. But I was captivated by his descriptions of his neighbours and people encountered on his hillside farm. From Domingo, the neighbour of many talents, to Trev, who deisgned and built an eco-folly for the author.
You get impression at times, that money was tight for the author and his family, but yet they enjoyed the live that Andalucia offered them. Chapters in this book will make you chuckle, especially the description of Porca the parrot and his love for Ana, the authors wife.
The only critique I have is that I felt we are somewhat abandoned at the end of the book. But I do suppose that means, there will be a third installment. In the meantime, I'm going to go and read the first.
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on 4 October 2002
Answer; Chris Stewart. What a delightful read this is! Following on from 'Driving Over Lemons', Chris Stewart's first book, it is so easy to picture the people, the expressions on their faces, the terrain, feel the warm sun and oh yes, see that darn parrot. Chris Stewart has a certain droll way of expressing himself. I found myself laughing out loud, both at the events that are retold and the way they are expressed. The only bad thing about this book is that it came to the end, and without another one to carry on with. Come on Chris, stop messing about with the farm, get pen to paper!
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on 28 June 2002
A parrot in the Pepper Tree by Chris Stewart
Despite the rather unlikely title to this book and its predecessor, 'Driving over Lemons' I found it really compulsive reading.
As it turns out both titles have some relevance which becomes apparent somewhere in the tales told by Chris Stewart. He comes across as a likeable chap who wends his way through life like the ball in a game of bagatelle. Much of the reading is captivating and it's tempting not to stop at the end of the chapter but to continue and satisfy your curiosity.
The bleakness of a farmer's existence in the Alpujarras region of Spain is highlighted still more with the arrival of Chris and Ana's daughter Chole. To read about the happy development of Chole I could not help but to ask myself some questions. Would I have brought up a child in this environment? Would I have had the guts to go there in the first place? The characters and way of life captured in this book are as far away from your two week package holiday as you could possibly get, which is probably the attraction.
Now and then (just when you are wondering how they coped without a microwave) a new acquisition drags the family into the 21st Century like a radio telephone or battery charger. However the impression the author gives is that of a lifestyle not really changed for hundreds of years.
I found 'A parrot in a Pepper Tree' a thoroughly enjoyable read and a temporary antidote to the rat race that its author has skilfully left behind.
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on 30 July 2002
I could not imagine that A Parrot in the Pepper Tree would in anyway match the first book Driving Over Lemons. But, I can honestly say I enjoyed the book even more than the first. Starting with a totally different landscape and type of expression while sheep sheering, Chris makes you feel like you are out in the wilderness too. The return to Spain is magic and you can imagine how he felt when seeing his wife and daughter in the distance, and his apprehension at encroaching on the special relationship of a mother and daughter. The book was finished far too quickly, and this is my only criticism. Sincerely hope there is a sequel. A very enjoyable read.
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on 23 March 2007
I picked this book up when I saw it lying on a friend's coffee table and became absorbed from the first chapter, so much so I was barely able to put it down until it was finished. It is written in a humorous, fluent and self-deprecating style that provides a fascinating insight into life as an ex-pat in a remote foreign farming community. The book's worth is increased for me by it coming across as a very honest account of events naturally brought to life by the characters and their situation. Each chapter is a self-contained episode which keeps the whole thing fresh. I certainly chuckled aloud at one or two sections; the improptu talk given to the Swedish on cattle rearing in England being particularly memorable. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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on 2 September 2002
As with Driving over Lemons, this is a very readable book, the sort of book that doesn't take anything out of you and leaves you feeling good about life, the universe and sheep shearing. It's not heavy, indeed, it's fairly trivial stuff, but it's readable, funny, well written and enjoyable. If you want heavy try Theroux, if you want a good book to relax with, Chris Stewart is your man !
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on 30 November 2002
I suspect by now every ex-pat in Spain has come across or read Stewart's 'Driving Over Lemons.' So picking up "Parrot in the Pepper Tree" was a special treat.
Both books are collections of short stories about Stewart's experiences in Southern Spain. I enjoyed Stewart's books mostly because they are fun, honest, and refreshingly, unvarnished. It is, frankly, a welcome departure from the "Under the Tuscan Sun" fare that seem to clog bookshelves today, books that appear more romantic than true.
Though we are not year-round residents of Spain, we appreciate the way Stewart's protects life in the Spanish countryside by keeping most of the people, places and events in Andalusia largely anonymous.
Like Stewart, my wife and I joined the Spanish homeowner fraternity about four years ago. We shunned the coast for the countryside. Chose small-town life in Andalusia vs. the remote finca. Then rebuilt our house, learned the language and suffered the pains of the Spanish bureacracy, like Stewart. If we read "Driving Over Lemons" first, I doubt we would have bought our Spanish home. But four years later, we appreciate what we have today, precisely because we worked so hard earn our our Spanish neighbors trust.
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on 2 December 2002
This book is a very enjoyable sequel to 'Driving Over Lemons'. Chris Stewart gently introduces the reader to a series of Spanish adventures involving his small family, his guitar, his mountain farm and a whole cast of characters, both human and animal. Even when his farm is threatened, his writing remains upbeat. Enjoy this book about an alternative lifestyle and dream of visiting Los Alpujarras in Spain next year.
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on 29 September 2015
Chris Stewarts first book (Driving Over Lemons) was so well written and enjoyable I carried on and read the whole trilogy. Alas like so many authors a brilliant first book doe not necessarily guarantee the success of subsequent publications. This book is more a series of witty anecdotes and observations. However as we know Chris is now a successful writer and financially secure (he tells us) then the sense of - will he make it - that was present in the first book is lost. The book therefore lacks purpose because the excitement and anticipation is gone. Chris is clearly clever, caring and compassionate about his adopted country and life style but he also come over as a little smug. Having succeeded against all odds (and that is a tremendous achievement) the drama is now lost making the "story" a little flat. Authors, poets and musicians often only ever write good stuff when facing adversity. If a tornado were to flatten the farm this would make a gripping next story, although I am not sure what it would do for Chris's blood pressure.
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on 18 April 2003
Stewart’s sequel is as good as the original and this is one of those books that leave you with the same feeling felt after a good hot bath after a hard day’s work.
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