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Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia Paperback – 3 Jun 1999
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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
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
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) See all Product description
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Surrounded by a menagerie of animals, eccentric villagers, unpredictable nature, this book really captures the essence of Andalusia.
This book by Chris Stewart is one of the better ones. It is hard to say exactly why; I think his character is the chief reason. Already a fairly laid back, pragmatic person before the move, this allowed him - at least in print - to take everything that the change threw at him and deal with it.
The book has a lot of the usual 'local characters' who seem to populate these books, but most of them do ring true. He also admits that he got one or two character judgements spectacularly wrong along the way. He also errs on the side of seeing himself as needing to understand and work with the locals, whereas in so many of these books, it is the locals who are expected to accept the newcomers without question.
He does introduce one or two innovations to the area, which are generally welcomed - it is other foreign visitors who accuse him of destroying local traditions!
Overall, a well-written account of the start of his adventures; now to read the sequel...
Latest edition updates the reader on the Stewarts life to date - I bought it again because have just bought a place in Spain in an area near to the Stewarts.
He writes so well , simple , easy , flowing , captivated once more - thanks Chris.
An optimist indeed !
Buy , read , enjoy.....Encantado!
The characters that Chris meets and becomes friends with on his journey in this remote Spanish village are interesting and colourful and many over the years have became part of his extended family.
Chris describes the good and bad parts of farm life, some of which are downright scary, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse. This book shows that if you have a dream, through determination and handwork you really can make it work.
There's an interview with Chris at the end of the book, again this is very interesting so don't be tempted to skip over it :-)
I'm looking forward to reading the sequel and wish Chris and his family all the best for the future!
Chris Stewart's words reached me so significantly that a year later I specifically made a trip to the region, stayed in Orgiva, and roamed the hills in May for wildflowers and tiny white villages. Perfect.
I look forward to reading Driving Over Lemons again some day, preferably from a sun dappled olive grove in the Alpujarras.
An enjoyable reading experience and one which I throughly recommend to others - especially those who have had the odd thought about how life might play out should they suddenly leave their life of middle-class security to an adventurous and 'insecure' way of living in another country.
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