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Sacred Sierra: A Year on a Spanish Mountain Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099512947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099512943
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 52,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Webster has the endearing writer's knack of making us laugh and weep along with him...written in the sympathetic tradition of Chris Stewart's best-selling Driving Over Lemons, but is even better" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Discursive and appealingly conversational...an inspiring account" (Daily Telegraph)

"Webster's style is engaging and elegiac" (Independent on Sunday)

"Webster is a clever, hugely readable interpreter of Spain. He is also irrepressible: his work is a master class in involvement...this deserves to be - and undoubtedly will be - one of the most successful books about Spain this year" (Julian Evans Independent)

"Full of romanticism, comedy mishaps and colourful characters, it makes for a deeply personal and highly personable account of one life-changing year" (Sunday Telegraph)

Review

'He has a natural empathy for people and their culture ... Webster makes it sound utterly seductive' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
From the moment I began to read this beautifully written book, it became my secret friend, drawing me into a world that I was dying to see. I put my work aside for two days and did nothing but read. This story sits apart from so many other books about "a new life somewhere" or "doing up a house abroad" for it is not just about that. Evocatively written and well researched, it weaves the day to day experiences of the author and his gentle partner together with folklore, plant lore, local characters, and a perfect dollop of history. Each morsel of information is fascinating and the little fairy tales give further insight into a rapidly disappearing part of rural Spain with its moorish and cathar associations. Reading this marvellous account gave me a deeper understanding of mountain life in Spain and also made me frightened for its future looming ominiously. What will happen in the years to come? If there was ever a book that begged a sequel, then this one is it.
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Format: Paperback
Whether it is writing about the intricacies of flamenco or the complexities of the Spanish Civil War, Webster consistently gets under the skin of modern day Spain better than any other current writer. His new book - with its lure of escapism and learned examination of local folklore and traditions - is no exception. Reading this book is a perfect way to beat the credit crunch blues!
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Jason Webster has produced a fantastic book - a mixture of an insight into the "mas" culture of rural Valencian countryside; including old traditional tales and a sensory delight. Not to be read quickly, this is a book to savour and probably re-read to enrich the soul. A must for anyone who loves Spain, but also who loves excellent quality writing.
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Format: Paperback
Thank you Jason for yet another well written and 'verdad' book about Spain, I travel through Spain every year and you have the insight and the sentivity to the 'spanish' way that certain other high profile writers do not have. I am just so envious of your experience and language/musical skills. That makes this a book to re-read and enjoy many times. Evocative and so TRUE to Spain. Gracias Duncan
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Format: Paperback
Jason Webster has lived in Spain for many years, and made a life there. He lives with a Spanish flamenco dancer, speaks the language and eats the food - he's not just an ex-pat there for a sunnier version of his own life.

Having lived in Valencia itself, and tired of the heat and the noise, Jason and Salud decide the time is right to buy an old farm (a 'mas' in the local language) and see if they can live the good life in the mountains. But most of the mas have been abandoned as people left for the city in search of an easier life, and there are many perils of living on the mountains - not least the wild boar and the hunters who roam across even private property in order to keep them under control.

Sacred Sierra follows Jason and Salud through their first year on the mountain. We meet their neighbours, a colourful bunch of characters who live on the mountain. One is the fastest thing on crutches; another lives like a hermit further up the mountain and tells stories during the week - but on the weekend his wife comes to visit. All of these are beautifully and intriguingly rendered, and make for a good read.

But it was Jason's details about the plant life in and around the mas that really captured my imagination. There are olive and almond trees, all neglected, that he attempts to bring back into cultivation, rejoicing in even the tiniest harvest of their own nuts and olive oil. He plants a vegetable patch at the back of the house and embarks on an ambitious truffle tree project, both of which suffer from the attentions of the wild boar.

There's bee keeping adventures, mushroom foraging and ways to cook snails. And between each chapter there are renditions of Spanish stories - folk lore from the past.

Enthralling, fascinating and informative, this is one 'travalogue' which shows you a lovely slice of life from a corner of Spain which is normally kept hidden, away from the glare of the well-known 'Costas'.
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Format: Paperback
From the moment I opened this book, I could not put it down, I thought that the myths written before the start of each chapter might spoil the story, but it didn't.
I hope that in time there is a sequel to this, if so I will certainly be buying it.
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Format: Paperback
If you have read any Jason Webster (his fabulously researched and eruditely written journeys into the heart of Spain via flamenco, the Moors and the Civil War) and enjoyed his determination to get to grips with what makes Spain so Spanish, then this will further your admiration of his oeuvre. If you haven't previously read any Jason Webster, but appreciate Spain/european folklore/getting to know nature/travel writing, then this is a book for you. Forget all those disastrously rigid and turgid accounts with "A Year in Tuscany/Provence/etc" in their title. This is not in the same league, and nor does it try to be.

Whilst there are similarities to the wonderful Chris Stewart 'Lemons...'/Annie Hawes 'Olives...' trilogies (if you enjoy this book but haven't read those sets, GET THEM NOW!) Jason Webster is his own man, forging a path of writing that combines elements of diary, story-telling and acute observation, weaving the whole into a well-formed narrative following the seasons of the land that he shares with the mountains, animals and plant-life, all of which he acknowledges has long existed before him and will long outlive him, too.

As with his earlier boooks, he has a knack for spotting, questioning and searching elements of indigenous life and experience, taking the reader on a discovery tour of all that surrounds him. Using ancient moorish texts and local wisdom to guide him, he sets out to live not ON the land but WITH the land, existing in harmony and tandem with all that survives the harsh weather on the sierra. With other writers what might have been incongruous, he intersperses more daily routines of planting and harvesting with tales and talk with which the locals infuse and enthuse him.
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