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Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía
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Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía (Driving Over Lemons Trilogy #1)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  9,072 Ratings  ·  532 Reviews
No sooner had Chris Stewart set eyes on El Valero than he handed over a check. Now all he had to do was explain to Ana, his wife, that they were the proud owners of an isolated sheep farm in the Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. That was the easy part.

Lush with olive, lemon, and almond groves, the farm lacks a few essentials—running water, electricity, an access road.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 1999 by Sort Of Books (first published 1999)
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This really is my favourite kind of light reading; what I like to think of as the expat sub-genre of travel writing. You know the drill. Someone decides to opt out of their normal life (bonus points if it's a bit humdrum), goes to foreign country (more bonus points if non- English speaking) and encounters a whole range of amusing misunderstandings and challenges as they establish a new life (even MORE bonus points if they buy a dilapidated house to renovate). Generally they accumulate a small ha ...more
Sep 05, 2013 Zanna rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
My ability to relate to the author got off to a poor start, wore thinner under his gendering of food, and finally broke down over his willingness to associate with and admiration for a taciturn domestic abuser. I might have got further if the writing seemed really fantastic, but it seemed just like other civilised-man-on-the-wild-passionate-continent books with the usual wife-ignoring, romanticising tropes.
Roy Lotz
Jan 06, 2016 Roy Lotz rated it really liked it
I have admit I came to this book with low expectations. The story of an Englishman’s escape into rural Spain seemed to promise only the same endlessly repeated tropes: the hapless foreigner making their way in a strange land, the contrast of dreary modern life with the pure traditions of the unlettered, the isolation of cities compared with the communality of the country—you’ve heard it all before.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the book; indeed, by the end I was thoroughly charmed. Stewart d
Nov 18, 2007 Kammy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: wanna-be expats
Shelves: favorites
Makes you want to quit your crappy job, sell your pricey house and move to a pile of rocks in Spain. Reminds you of the importance and joy to be found in relationships with neighbors, and the lack of importance in sticking to a tight schedule. I gave this to my Mom soon after I read it, and she loved it as well.
The writing style is natural, conversational. Great book.
Ashley Lauren
Mar 08, 2013 Ashley Lauren rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, spain
Man. I should have loved this book. When I pulled the off the shelf at Half Price Books I knew I had to have it. It was perfect for me. Not only was it a travel memoir, one of my great weaknesses, but it was a travel memoir about Spain. Add onto that a quirky story and I'm sold.

So what happened? Why am I not head over heels for this story? The writing was quite good, the descriptions were also nicely done. There is nothing glaringly obvious throughout the entire length.

The problem is that I just
Lisa (Harmonybites)
It's unavoidable making the comparison between this book and Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. Both are memoirs by ex-Pat Brits of their relocation to bucolic parts of Southern Europe, both to be found in my neighborhood book store almost side-by-side under Travel Essays. A blurb from the Daily Telegraph even says Stewart is being talked up as "the new Peter Mayle." Fortunately Stewart compared well--in fact I liked his book quite a bit more than Mayle's.

A lot of that is that I just plain liked
Robert Bovington
Feb 13, 2011 Robert Bovington rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spain, chris-stewart
My wife bought this book about ten years ago having heard a review on Radio 2. She enjoyed reading it and so did I. More than that, it inspired us to move to Spain. I must admit, though, that we didnt entirely follow in Chris Stewart's footsteps - working a farm in the
Alpujarras sounded like much too much hard work so we relocated to the coast instead.
However, intrigued by Chris Stewart's book we began to explore the Alpujarras and during the last eight years have spent many enjoyable days in
Marnette Falley
I spent an evening at a farm in Spain and as I picked the grapes overhanding the patio I dreamed about buying it and pickling all those orchards of olives. No electricity. So I kind of identify with author Chris Stewart, who bought just such a farm, except way more remote and without running water or a road.

I completely enjoyed the story of the couples first years in Spain, during which they learned how to keep their farm alive, built friendships and construction know-how, and had a baby. My on
Oct 21, 2010 Dalia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up in the travel guide section at the library when I started planning my trip to Portugal. I was suprised to see a book like this in that section but I guess its not hefty enough for a memoir so there really isn't a proper home for it. I know understand why Cooking with Fernet Branca was made- these gringo moves to peasant territory books are so formulaic- this even has the requisite recipe for "poorman's potatoes"...... No real reason to read this, zero drama, zero suprises....
Oct 24, 2015 Francisco rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novela, ingleses
Para pasarlo bien como lector, a veces no es necesaria una gran novela... Este es un ejemplo. Narración sencilla, con carácter autobiográfico, divertida en unos momentos y tierna en otros. Se cierra el libro con una sonrisa en los labios, imaginando el aroma de la sierra.
Jun 06, 2014 Craig rated it it was amazing
For me, Chris Stewart’s Driving Over Lemons sets the standard by which all travel memoirs are judged. His passion for his adopted country and its people oozes from every page. Over a decade on from it first publication, it’s as crisp and fresh today as it’s ever been.
Mar 19, 2017 Melanie rated it really liked it
This was a delightful account of an English couple who buys a primitive farm in rural Andalucia Spain. As Chris describes it, the setting is beautiful, but he also doesn't gloss over the difficulties of moving into a home with no electricity and no running water. The anecdotes sometimes jump back and forth in time, but that didn't bother me.
Chad Fairey
Mar 31, 2012 Chad Fairey rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-booklist
Was very happy to come across this delightful little book by Chris Stewart -- one-time drummer for Genesis (in the band's very, very early days) who threw it all in to become a sheep-shearer and, eventually, the owner of a remote farm in the Alpujarras region of Andalucia. While this technically belongs in the same genre as similar works by Peter Mayle, Frances Mayes and Tony Cohan, it strikes a very different pitch as it is remarkably humble, grounded and measured in its perception of local lif ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Caroline rated it it was ok
This was disappointing. I've had it on the radar for years but I really thought it would be a better read. It's quite a lightweight trot through one mans experience of moving to Andalucia. I just couldn't feel anything for the characters or indeed the entire experience. He has some lovely observations, particularly about his daughter and it is quite funny in an understated (my favourite type of humour) way, but I don't believe he manages to convey anything of depth.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Chris Stewart, formerly of Genesis, relocates his family to Andalucia. They embrace a very peasant lifestyle, and seem to love it.

I loved reading about the farm - the seasons, the beauty, the locals, and the little customs of the locals like planting on saints days. I would have liked a lot more about Andalucia in general, beyond the farm.

If you've ever wished for a simpler, pastoral life, you would probably enjoy this a bit more than I did.
Claire Marshall
Aug 05, 2015 Claire Marshall rated it it was amazing
Great book really easy to read and very engaging and amiable narrator. One criticism possibly that Ana doesn't really come alive in the same way as other characters. Maybe she didn't want to be a big part of the story? But Domingo seems more rounded somehow.
Apr 02, 2017 Remo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una pareja de ingleses deciden venderlo todo y venirse a vivir a la Alpujarra. Se compran el cortijo de El Valero y se dedican a arreglarlo. A pesar de parecer un tema tan anodino, el autor escribe tan bien que es una gloria leerlo. Cuenta mil historias de pastores y constructores, de ganaderos y de agricultores. Chris Stewart tiene talento y los libros se leen solos. En total tiene cinco escritos, a cual más divertido. Muy recomendable. Por aquí he comentado un par de ellos.
May 25, 2011 Leftbanker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book came highly recommended from a couple of friends and I have been meaning to read it for quite a while now, probably ever since I moved to Spain four and a half years ago. I found a copy in Spanish at a used book sale (1Euro!) so the matter was settled. I have to say that it was slow reading and not because I had any problem with the Spanish, it is just slow reading. He doesn't have to much to say about Spanish life as he is in the middle of nowhere and interacting with few people. The ...more
Jan 21, 2017 Julie rated it it was amazing
The title is intriguing for a start and immediately conjures up pictures of hot summer days and sleepy Spanish villages set against a backdrop of lemon groves. No doubt the author had the same romantic picture of a life in the sun when he and his wife moved to Spain. However, his account of farming during a harsh winter, of no running water or electricity paint an entirely different picture. I think it's the struggle of daily life and the interaction with the locals that make this book so endear ...more
May 12, 2016 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: spain, travel
Enjoyable if a bit standard in the "English/American family moves to Country, buys a farm house, experiences construction woes and gets to know the neighbors" genre. In this one, they actually farm and have livestock so there are some fairly gorey bits and a lot less rhapsodizing about the local cuisine (which you get in Provence/Tuscany books of this type). In all, I found it not super insightful or funny, but an interesting look at one family's experiences moving to southern Spain. There are t ...more
Isa Lot
Mar 31, 2015 Isa Lot rated it liked it
Es un libro muy peculiar, desde luego si no te gusta la naturaleza y el campo no lo leas. Se compone de un montón de anecdotas de una familia inglesa en la alpujarra granadina. Todo lo que tiene que pasar y aprender primero el solo como nuevo granjero y luego con su mujer y su hija.

Al principio me gustó mucho, después me aburrio bastante y posteriormente me volvió a enganchar cuando comenzo a hablar de experiencias con medicina natural, hierbas y botánica.
Aug 20, 2009 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
I did not expect much from a book by the former drummer of Genesis. Now I am embarrassed by me prejudice. He is funny, clever and talented and who knew he could shear sheep. His descriptions of the hills and country around Granada are beautiful and capture it perfectly.
Christine Zibas
Review to come.
Apr 08, 2017 Kenny rated it it was amazing
I ended up reading this on a whim on holiday, and having read it soon after it first came out (around the millennium) wondered if I'd enjoy it as much as I did then when it was one of (maybe the first of this type I'd read). The short answer is yes, albeit without that 'first' experience. It struck me that there were a couple of pieces that I can remember vividly - and how relatively short they are (one piece on him making olive oil was only about 3 pages long). So that's a success.

So what's goo
Jun 06, 2010 Barbra rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful book - it was funny, personal and enchanting. Can't wait to read the next of his adventures.

Back Cover Blurb:
Meet Chris Stewart, the eternal optimist.
At age seventeen Chris retired as the drummer of Genesis and launched a career as a sheep shearer and travel writer. He has no regrets about this. Had he become a bit-time rock star he might never have moved with hs wife Ana to a remote mountain farm in Andalucia. Nor forged the friendship of a lifetime with his resourceful pea
Sep 08, 2013 Peter rated it it was ok
The one thing that I don't like about Goodreads is that there doesn't seem to be enough bad reviews of books. I suppose most people won't bother to finish a book they don't like, or won't bother to write a review of it either. So here's one now.

Though this is not so much a bad book as it is just mediocre. The problem I have with it is that there is very little added background information on the area where Chris Stewart bought his farm. I like to read books like this to learn a bit about the are
Christine Blachford
Jul 22, 2015 Christine Blachford rated it it was amazing
I inadvertantly read Chris Stewart's other memoir - early reminiscing about life at sea - before finding this, the story that made him a writer. In Driving Over Lemons, we are firmly land-locked, with Chris heading from an albeit already eclectic life in the UK (drummer with Genesis, sailor, sheep-shearer) to a self-sufficient farmer in the heart of Spain.

As always with these tales, our hero doesn't quite know what he's letting himself in for, and suffers through plenty of trials and tribulation
Pedro León
Feb 08, 2012 Pedro León rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Uno de los pocos regalos que este año he recibido por mi cumpleaños es este libro. Me gusta que me regalen libros que yo nunca compraría porque me obliga a abrir mi horizonte de lectura, y casi siempre suele ser para bien. En este caso se trata de un libro muy interesante sobre un inglés que se viene a vivir nada menos que a un cortijo en la alpujarra granadina. Todo un privilegio que no me importaría compartir, desde luego. El libro tiene muchos toques de humor. Por otro lado creo que refleja m ...more
Sharon Roy
Jan 18, 2012 Sharon Roy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This book is just absolutely delightful! I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end and will now add Stewart's other books to my reading list. He writes with refreshing sense of humour and keen appreciation of his own foibles as well as those of the people and the world around him. On the surface of it all, I was a bit skeptical - after all this is a story about a former musician (he's a founding member of Genesis) who elects to abandon civilized life as we know it and take up sustenance farm ...more
Gerald Sinstadt
Coming late to this best seller, I can add little to the deserved praise it has already had.

Driving Over Lemons is not strictly a travel book. True, the author goes off sheep-shearing in Sweden but he always returns home. His story is about how he and his wife made that home in Spain. They were not the conventional expats taking a bungalow onthe Costa del Sol. They bought a broken down property high in the mountains and, after many travails, turned it into a working farm.

As well as their story,
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Christopher 'Chris' Stewart (born 1951), was the original drummer and a founding member of Genesis. He is now a farmer and an author. A classmate of Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel at Charterhouse School, Stewart joined them in a school band called The Garden Wall, and they later formed another band with schoolmates Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips, called Anon. This band eventually became Genesi ...more
More about Chris Stewart...

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Driving Over Lemons Trilogy (4 books)
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“Alzò per un momento lo sguardo verso di noi, poi si produsse in quel gioco di prestigio che sin dalla notte dei tempi ha fatto sì che il genere umano prendesse in simpatia la capra, emettendo contemporaneamente un rutto e una scoreggia.” 2 likes
“There was no stopping us now. We had running water, a heater, a cooker and a road. We were fast becoming slaves again to all the things we had come to this benighted spot to flee.” 2 likes
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