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From Barnes & NobleAlready a bestselling smash in England, Chris Stewart's Driving Over Lemons incorporates all the well-loved and familiar elements of the tales of Mayes and Mayle, while providing a refreshingly unique perspective on the experience of becoming a local in a strange land. Driving Over Lemons is a breezy pleasure to read and to lose yourself in.
Stewart and his wife Ana took up residency in El Valero, a ramshackle farm in the Las Alpujarras region south of Granada, because they wanted to be farmers living in the hills that time forgot, rather than because they were escaping the madness of big city living, or because they wanted a more laid-back existence (which is often the case in similar books). Stewart and Ana aren't fazed by the lack of electricity or plumbing in their new abode. They accept these factors in stride, rather than bemoan them, and take pride in their accomplishments when they do turn El Valero into a quasi-20th-century domicile.
Although Stewart is more accomplished at roughing it than most, he's still amusingly baffled by some of the customs and styles of his new home. His attempt to introduce electricity to the art of sheep shearing to a highly critical audience is laugh-out-loud funny, as is the chapter on the birth of his daughter, which highlights how poorly he fares in the more modernized corridors of the Hospital of the Immaculate Conception in Granada. Stewart's fondness for, and commitment to, his family's life in Las Alpujarras is consistent throughout Driving Over Lemons. And his attachments show in his narrative, so much so that the reader feels as intimately connected to the characters of Las Alpujarras, and even to the animals of El Valero, as Stewart does. You also can't help but respect and admire Stewart for his temerity in choosing to live such a difficult life. But Stewart makes it clear that the rewards of life at El Valero far outweigh the hassles, hardships, and heartaches that he sometimes faced.
—Freelancer Emily Burg is based in New York.