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Alan and his wife, a British couple, decide to sell everything and move to Spain. Their two daughters, in the meantime, head towards Australia and New Zealand to spend a whole year down under.
This was a very light listen with hilarious moments, and correctly structured, having the emails from their daughters Ashleigh and Stacy placed in between chapters. Contrary to other books about English-speaking people in other countries, this one did not have too many expressions along with their translation, which made it smoother to the listener.
I was very interested in reviewing this book, and see what image of the Spanish people the author would give. Despite being done with great care I have to warn the readers that this book is a very particular subset of the Spanish population. I agree that if you go to very small villages (some houses did not even have a road but a path leading to them) you will meet people like the one described in the book, but life is very different in towns and large cities. Cuthbertson mentions that Spanish people do not consider animals like family members, and I have to say that it is like this in small villages where people still farm for a living, but not in other environments. Also, the myth about Fiestas and Siestas is just not true out of this kind of places. There were also many generalizations, also because of the same reason, just having met a very particular subset of people.
Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this book and laughed at many of the anecdotes. I know people from places like the one Cuthbertson describes and I could see similar things happening.
Another aspect is that I did not see a real effort from the couple to learn Spanish for good. They got along with broken Spanish and it is true that they did not really need more since looking for a job was not part of their plan. It is just that properly learning the language of the country where you live seems a useful way of occupying your time, apart from spending it between bars and fiestas.
Richard Southworth delivered a pleasant narration, and you could very well imagine that you were listening to Alan Cuthbertson himself. He had some issues pronouncing some words in Spanish, which could have also happened to Cuthbertson, so I do not really know how to evaluate this. I would have expected a better pronunciation, but it is also true that many of the sentences in Spanish in the book were incorrect.
This was an enjoyable listen, light and humorous. Just do not expect a very rigorous portrait of the Spanish people.
Audiobook was provided for review by the author.
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3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Feeling a little under the English weather of late and in much need of a sunny holiday, I scrolled through audible to find something with warmth and humour to cheer me up!
Fiestas and Siestas... hmmmm sounds lighthearted and fun !!
There were only a couple of reviews, one was not good ... going on about the terrible Spanish accents of the reader etc and one seemed to enjoy, so I decided to try it.
I am so glad that I did as I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the Cuthbertson family. I found this book a joy to listen to, a warm, whitty, wonderful escapism, I shed a tear and empathised at the loss of a parent, the emails from the daughters tickled me, and reminded me of my own children's escapades !! The authors interaction with the locals and their customs made me laugh. On the whole this writing was an uplifting read. Please, please Alan Cuthbertson and Family, invite us all to ur next Fiesta, would so love to read more of how you are all viviendo la vida en Espana. Oh, and by the way, I have studied the Spanish language and owned a villa in Spain, the accents by the narrator just added to the warmth and fun of the storytelling, made me smile and lifted my spirits even more. Thanks for the tonic
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
Difficult to say.
What was most disappointing about Alan Cuthbertson’s story?
Having lived in Spain for 16 years, I found several unnecessary factual errors which were annoying. The author obviously does live in Spain but should have taken greater care with his facts.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
When choosing a narrator for a book including a spattering of foreign words, it would be better to have someone with at least a knowledge of the correct pronunciation of that language. Also, there is a section in the book which deals with the Spanish people's inability to pronounce the author's wife's name but the narrator pronounces certain sounds incorrectly which, not only is detracting, but also makes this part of the story a bit pointless.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Any additional comments?
Not a bad book but probably not for those who've done the same thing. This genre is led by Chris Stewart's "Driving Over Lemons" - this book is a poor imitation.