I’m not a fan of all the ‘Living the Dream’, or sometimes ‘Living the Nightmare’ books about Brits moving to Spain. Elle likes them, but they’re not really my thing. To be fair, I’ve only read one cover to cover, with little more than a flick through others. I’ve sworn since that experience I will throw no more hours away reading about property renovations, rescued pets, dodgy estate agents, English or Spanish builders (lets face it they’re all builders whatever the nationality) who screw up or don’t show up, ‘amusing’ linguistic misunderstandings and the tears shed over family being a couple more hours away than they used to be.
As I write this, there’s probably about 300,000 expats in Spain writing down their experiences (mostly the same as everyone else’s) and readying them for self-publishing on Amazon in the vain hope that their efforts are creating the next Driving Over Lemons.
For every hundred such books, one might capture my imagination. And you can pretty much be damned sure that in two years’ time half of the writers of said books will be heading back to the UK with their tail between their legs.
I’m not saying they’re all bad; I’m sure there are some good ones. But the way I see it is that I’m too busy living my own expat life to want to spend my time reading, or caring, about largely quite uninteresting people.
However, I made an exception with Inside the Tortilla having (virtually) got to know Paul Read (and his alter ego The Gazpacho Monk) over recent months. I’m glad I did.
Though there is a house renovation (no dodgy builders) and a dog (don’t know whether he was rescued or not) who is a constant companion, that is where the similarity to most ‘I moved to Spain and I love it!’ tales ends.
Paul has been in Spain many years and has seen much of the country through various moves before finally settling in a small town in Granada. This book is no ‘how to’ guide. Instead it’s an exploration of Spanish culture and history from the perspective of an outsider. It’s the story of Paul’s longing to belong in his adopted country, and even more so his own community.
Another thing that makes Inside the Tortilla stand out is the time that has clearly been spent researching the historic references. I came away from it not just having enjoyed the book itself – I learned a few things. You’ll also pick up a few simple, very traditional and very tasty recipes along the way as an added bonus.
Sounds stuffy? Well, it isn’t! Paul’s unique writing style carries you along on the journey with lashings of charm and humour.
Despite my obvious feelings on expat tales, this is one I’m glad I spent my time on. Do give it a go!
You can purchase Paul’s book from Amazon by clicking the following links:
- Inside the Tortilla: Amazon.com
- Inside the Tortilla: Amazon.co.uk
- Link to Elle’s review on Amazon.com
- Paul Read’s Website: Speaking of Spain