From the humorous “Driving Over Lemons” to Lorca’s tragic “Blood Wedding” here are our top 6 books set in Andalucía.
Article by Anastasia Sukhanova
Reading is a great way of escaping one’s reality, travelling further than imaginable and getting to know characters you wouldn’t dream of meeting. Reading is also a bridge that can bring us closer to a new country or make us see familiar sceneries with new eyes. Whether you’re a local or a curious explorer, this selection of our top-6 books set in Andalucía will take you on a journey of tradition, love and beautiful landscapes.
Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia by Chris Stewart
A dreamer and an itinerant sheep shearer, Chris Stewart and his wife moved to the mountain region of Andalucía, Las Alpujarras, over two decades ago. A completely true story and an ode to Spanish campo life, where hardships and rewards of farming come together in a very relatable narrative, the book has stood the test of time. In 2020, a 25-year anniversary edition was published, including an extra chapter set in the modern day.
Coastal Walks in Andalucía by Guy Hunter-Watts
A world traveler and a local legend of the Ronda mountains, where he is based, Guy Hunter-Watts has lived and worked in Andalucía since the 1980s. To say that he knows the terrain like the back of his hand would be an understatement. This guidebook features over 40 half and full-day walks along Andalucia’s Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. And while it’s a great read, it’s an even better reason to get out and go on an adventure. As Guy says in the foreword, “Who doesn’t feel more in touch with the Big Picture than when walking beside the ocean?”
Blood Wedding by Garcia Lorca
Part of Lorca’s unfinished “trilogy of the Spanish earth”, Blood Wedding is a chilling and powerful modernist tale of love and societal norms. Lorca regularly used newspaper crime stories as a basis for his literature, and Blood Wedding is no exception. Cortijo del Fraile, a farmhouse situated in the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata-Nijar, is where a young woman named Francisca Canada Morales lived and eloped with her cousin, Francisco Montes Canada, hours before she was due to marry another man in 1928. With her lover shot by the bridegroom’s brother, she was beaten and left for dead, but survived the ambush, living to see her loss immortalized by Lorca’s masterpiece.
South from Granada by Gerald Brenan
Between 1920 and 1934, writer Gerald Brenan lived in the remote Spanish village of Yegen in South from Granada. The novel tenderly depicts his time there, including visits from his Bloomsbury friends headed by Virginia Woolf, and the Spanish way of life before the Civil War. Gerald Brenan himself went on to become a renowned hispanist, living the rest of his life in Andalucía. He was buried in the English Cemetery of Málaga with his wife, poet and novelist Gamel Woolsey. In 2003, South from Granada and its sincere tribute to Spain’s vanished past was made into a movie starring Matthew Goode.
A Rose for Winter by Laurie Lee
In his famous autobiographical novel “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning”, Lee depicts his epic journey on foot from a village in Gloucestershire to Spain, earning his living as a young violin player. Fifteen years later he returns to find the country broken by the Civil War and writes “A Rose for Winter”. This time he’s travelling with his wife on a circular route from Algeciras through Seville, Ecija, Granada and Castillo before returning to Algeciras. Everywhere they travel they are overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people and the sensual character of the land.
A Vineyard in Andalusia by María Dueñas
Finally, if you’re looking for a story that will sweep you off your feet before you reach the end of the first chapter, A Vineyard in Andalusia is such a read. A ruined silver mine owner sets sail from Mexico City to seek his fortune in the New World and lands in Jerez de la Frontera. Family secrets start to intertwine with love, money and the art of winemaking in a breathtaking plot. Written like a true best-seller, this novel will leave you wanting more – of wine and sun, that is!