corner corner Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia


Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia
by Chris Stewart | Biographies & Memoirs
Registered by wingvioloncellixwing of Groningen, Groningen Netherlands on 7/13/2012
Average 8 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by violoncellix): travelling

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1 journaler for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingvioloncellixwing from Groningen, Groningen Netherlands on Friday, July 13, 2012

8 out of 10

Meet Chris Stewart, the eternal optimist.

Review by Alan Stewart on

"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, Ana should be a required resource for all travel writers. Ana gets bored with the fake machismo of pig-killing, Ana sees through the selfless "help" of the natives, Ana 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." ("Ada" corrected to "Ana" by violoncellix.) 

Journal Entry 2 by wingvioloncellixwing at Groningen, Groningen Netherlands on Friday, July 20, 2012

9 out of 10

Journal entry by Guitarrix:

Violoncellix and me, Guitarrix, are now in the South of Spain, on holiday. Violoncellix, now nicely tanned and utterly relaxed, is always so clever to find books that really match the location in which we are temporarily located. This year she found the book 'Driving over lemons' by Chris Stewart.

The book start like all books of the type 'Oh, please, don't make such a big mistake!' But the protagonist does it anyway, of course. Otherwise there would be no conflict and thus no story. The so-called 'big mistake' in this book is buying a farm house in the South of Spain with no water, no electricity and not even a road to reach it by foot, let alone by car. Chris Stewart makes the most of the property anyway. Whatever happens to himself, his family or the house, he puts up with it, with admirable energy and perseverance. Optimistically indeed, and sometimes a bit naive.

I rate the book at nine, not only because of the content and the structure, but mainly because Chris Stewart is an extraordinary stylist. He writes enchanting, moving as well as very comical passages. Often he paints situations so well, that the tears prickle behind your eyes, for example when he describes a baptism gathering for his daughter. The guests, both Spaniards and British, sing the song All Things Bright and Beautiful,
(see: ):

"Unaccompanied and a little wobbly at the start, the communal voices soon gathered in strength and soared across the valley, their song swelled by the rushing of the rivers and the call of a nightingale ringing out from the barranco."


Journal Entry 3 by wingvioloncellixwing at Groningen, Groningen Netherlands on Friday, July 20, 2012

9 out of 10

Journal entry by violoncellix:

Just like Guitarrix, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author is very good at 'show, don't tell', especially when describing his own often not-so-wise decisions and their consequences. Reading the book here in Andalucia, in the Axarquia mountains (which actually look rather similar to Chris Stewart's beautifully rugged Alpujarras) added an extra dimension. However, now, with 40 degrees, it is a bit hard to imagine a deluge coming from the mountain and destroying one's team-built sturdy bridge!

I also enjoyed the story about Chloë's christening, quoted in Guitarrix' journal entry. Here follows another quote from the same story:

Chloë was persuaded to abandon Rosa and the dolls for a while and step forward in her party dress with Domingo and Susanne. She was a robust, reluctant and slippery toddler, so the godparents had to dispense with the tradition of carrying the infant tenderly to the font, and stand awkwardly beside her instead. Chloë looked as if she was about to cut up rough but Ana managed to bribe her into hesitant co-operation by flashing the edge of a bar of chocolate, kept at the ready in her pocket, and pointing meaningfully towards the altar. Chloë edged forward throwing side glances at the chocolate in the way that sailors keep a lighthouse in view when crossing onshore tides. 

Journal Entry 4 by wingvioloncellixwing at The Little Farmer's Shop in Puente Don Manuel, Málaga Spain on Friday, July 20, 2012

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (7/20/2012 UTC) at The Little Farmer's Shop in Puente Don Manuel, Málaga Spain


This book will be released this morning in the "Little Farm Shop" in Puente Don Manuel in Andalucia. Among the lemons of course! Just like the Alpujarras that Chris Stewart describes in this book, the region around Puente Don Manuel contains a fair number of British expats, all of whom seem to buy their vegetables and Cornish pasties at 'The Little Farmer's Shop'. The owner is a wonderful, very optimistic British lady, reminiscent of the book's author Chris Stewart.

Dear reader, I hope you will enjoy both the fresh Axarquian lemons and this book! And all the best for the shop and its owner! 

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