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

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  6,518 ratings  ·  381 reviews
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 ter ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 3rd 1999 by Sort Of Books (first published 1999)
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
104th out of 2,777 books — 3,103 voters
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Favourite Travel Books
77th out of 1,163 books — 2,466 voters

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Community Reviews

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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.
Nov 18, 2007 Kammy rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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
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
Robert Bovington
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
Chad Fairey
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
Ashley Lauren
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
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
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....
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.
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.
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
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,
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.
Pedro León
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 26, 2012 Sharon Roy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Loved this book, full of humour. Good times and bad. I love Andalucía as an area and this brought back many happy memories
It's A Year in Andalucia. Stewart's book is light, witty, charming, enjoyable reading, but it covers very familiar ground. You have all the tropes of a British eccentric moving to a remote foreign country: suspicious locals won over by newfangled ideas, crazy adventures in the mountains with goats and sheep, expats even more loopy than the writer and an never ending battle with nature. While Stewart has a lot of fun with the characters, they are as familiar as the plot. You'd think with real peo ...more
The Royal ME
I don't normally read autobiographies, but this was hilarious!
4 stars for enjoyment and for not falling into the trap of Brits Abroad smugness, but 3 stars overall.
About the author's experience buying an old farmhouse in Spain. I love these kinds of books, because I can fantasize about some of my favorite things: travel, home ownership/repair, idiosyncratic "locals" and so on. Reading the reviews at Amazon, I found out that the auther, Chris Stewert, was a one time drummer for Genesis. I had no idea.

"Driving Over Lemons" was a book that my mom had put in the guest room. I picked up another book that she left there called Beginner's Luck.

In the slew of expat memoirs on the market, Driving Over Lemons stands out as being genuinely entertaining. It's the usual story: Englishman ups sticks and moves to a foreign country. However, the difference is that Chris Stewart then sets up a sheep farm and really settles into life there. He writes with wit and humour, and draws the reader into his world without resorting to a 'them and us' mentality. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Glad I read this rather than having to live it. Andalucia as depicted here seems like a dirty, dusty, fly & scorpion, thorn & bramble filled area with just some scrub brush and patches of trees. Definitely not my idea of an idyllic life. Author's wife never had much of a presence in this adventure but there were a few interesting neighbors & ex-pats who drifted in & out.
non-fiction. Writer is retired drummer from the music Group Genesis (Phil Collins). He and his wife move to Andalucian and this is the story of finding a home, building it, meeting neighbors, having a daughter they raised there. A lot of wonderful people in the story and quite entertaining.
I cannot tell you how much credit I give to this man. A member of the band Genesis, he moves to very rural Spain. I don't believe I ever laughed so hard, swallowed back "Oh My God's", and admired anyone so much for giving it all up for his new way of life. This is a fantastic book.
Sarah Wortman
I have a fantasy of living as an ex-pat in my retirement and this is the kind of book for feeding that fantasy. If you liked books like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, you'll probably like this one too. Not quite as luxurious as the other two, but definitely fun.
Loved it. This memoir of an Englishman finding his place in rural Spain is so endearing. It's easy to see why Chris Stewart and his wife, Ana, decided to build a life in Andalusia. Stewart's anecdotal tales of buying the farm, meeting the neighbors, and breaking in as a sheep farmer are funny and warm. Cultural differences, and even a few philosophical differences, aren't able to prevent the lovely people in this sometimes harsh climate from becoming a close knit community.
I laughed out loud ma
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
I read this before I hiked in Andalusia. (Are you seeing a theme here?) So glad I did. Ever dreamed of living in the middle of olive and lemon groves? What if the house had no electricity or running water? (I love books like this!)
Muy entretenido. Ni mucho menos pienso que sea un libro de humor (o risa) como parece indicar alguna referencia de la contraportada. Es, más bien, un acercamiento sencillo, nada pretencioso, a la vida del campo, con sus logros y sus fracasos, contado desde una perspectiva insólita: la del extranjero que, sin tener mucha idea (aparentemente), compra un cortijo en La Alpujarra. El autor-personaje, Chris, se gana al lector desde las primeras páginas y con su tono modesto nos va contando sus avances ...more
A very enjoyable read with a humourous quirky look at ex-pat life on a farm in Spain. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Driving Over Lemons Trilogy (4 books)
  • A Parrot in the Pepper Tree
  • The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society
  • Last Days of the Bus Club
A Parrot in the Pepper Tree The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat Last Days of the Bus Club The Rough Guide to Andalucia

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