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Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain Paperback – May 8, 2001
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"Take half a cup of Bill Bryson, mix with three tablespoons of Peter Mayle, then add just a pinch of Monty Python, and what you get is Driving Over Lemons."- Chicago Tribune
“A wonderful antidote to…modern electronic life. I love this book.”–Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence
"This funny book is required reading for anyone who has ever dreamed of taking up the pastoral life in a foreign country."- Travel & Leisure
"The ability to write hilarious travelogues... may well be a national characteristic [of the English]. It's certainly possessed by Chris Stewart."- The New York Times Book Review
From the Inside Flap
Driving Over Lemons" is the contagiously entertaining account of one couple's beginning a new life as they turn a rundown peasant farm in southern Spain into a home.
When Chris Stewart first sees El Valero, he's willing to overlook its lack of electricity, running water, or access road. Assured that he's bought "a paradise for pennies," he phones his wife, Ana, still in England, whose enthusiasm is a little more tempered. Together they embark on an undertaking that includes rebuilding the house, feeding and housing a former owner reluctant to leave, the threat of drought (and flood), a cultural misunderstanding, and the creation of a whole new, fulfilling, enviable life
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Chris is a good writer but he doesn't try to shield his readers from some of the less desirable aspects of farm life and relocating. Slaughtering pigs and sheep getting attacked by dogs are all in here, but even as a staunch animal lover, I did not find this in any way detracted from my immense enjoyment of the book.
I would thoroughly recommend reading this book if you have a sense of true adventure or if like me you have this, but are unlikely to act upon it.
I would also add that my wife just started reading this book and she has yet to put it down.
I was cautious upon purchasing this book, as I couldn't imagine yet another member of Genesis achieving artistic and commercial success. But there must have been some fairy dust sprinkled over those schoolboys from Charterhouse School long ago, because "Driving Over Lemons" is a thoroughly well written and enjoyable narrative. It deals with Stewart's pie-eyed zest for simple, earthy living, and his follies and foibles trying to make a go of farming in a foreign country. Stewart succeeds with this book because we can relate to his naivety, and the humor in his narrative is natural and understated. He writes with ease and affection about his Spanish neighbors, fellow expatriates, cats Brenda and Elfine, building bridges, and channeling irrigation ditches.
If you can't chuck it all for the agrarian life in rural Spain, like Chris, at least pick a sunny day, find a cozy hammock, and read his book. It's as close as most of us will ever get to being there.