Great news! I’m excited to tell you about my latest new book “Life Beyond the Castanets: My Love Affair with Spain” which is out now and include some of the reviews of my books left by my fabulous readers.
A few reviews for my latest book:
Life beyond the Castanets, moving to Spain.
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First off a professional review from the blog writer and radio reviewer Hannah Read, taken from her website: Pages, Places, & Plates
Life Beyond The Castanets – Jean Roberts
Second Of Two Travel Memoir Books Journeying From The UK To Spain
As you all know, I love travel memoir books. And I love discovering them by local authors. You may remember that, back in August 2019, I reviewed A Kiss Behind The Castanets by Jean Roberts, a wonderful memoir detailing Jean’s rather, erm… interesting journey to becoming a homeowner in Spain. I knew there would be a sequel and I’ve been excited to read it ever since finishing the first one. And now, here it is!
I raved about A Kiss Behind The Castanets as it was such a well-written and engaging book. As someone who wants to live in Spain I found it fascinating, and as well as being an enjoyable read it also highlighted many issues that I may face if I eventually buy a property in the country.
Life Beyond The Castanets has a different slant – Jean and her husband Adrian are all settled in now. The difficult part of making that step to a foreign country has happened, and they’re now ready to live their combination Spanish and British lives to the full. Not without encountering even more issues though, of course! This book focuses more on their adventures across Spain (and other countries), with chapters giving an insight into their lives both in Andalucía and back in the UK. Like with the first book, I loved it. Jean has such an easy-going writing style, and I love the way she injects humour into her words. Reading her books is truly like chatting with a friend.
Although I learnt so much about buying property in Spain from the first book, I felt I learnt more in the second based on the variety of topics discussed. We see some more interesting examples of household issues and Spanish “solutions”, but this time it goes beyond that. One chapter, for example, delves deep into the history of Franco’s dictatorship and the Spanish Civil War, using conversations with someone to illustrate how horrific the time was for the Spanish. Another chapter explores the Remembrance parades and ceremonies as experienced in Gibraltar, and the comparisons between there and the UK.
Some of my favourite chapters were actually set on a road trip going all the way from Jean’s home in the UK to her house in Acerico. We’re taken to some wonderful locations in this part, from stunning mountain scenery to cowboy scenes in Europe’s only desert. I found these chapters inspiring, and they added a good few places to my ever-expanding travel bucket list!
Like with A Kiss Behind The Castanets, this second instalment also has a recipe section at the back. Some of them are mouthwatering, and I can’t wait to try them. I really want to make gazpacho, and I also have my eye on one mimicking tostada con tomate. I’m a big fan of travel memoir books that include extras like this – it adds some extra culture to the reading experience.
The great thing about Jean’s books is that she doesn’t just narrate situations – she ponders over them, giving meaning and reflection. She takes something away from every moment, which inevitably the reader does too. Chapters are short and simple to read but every single one is meaningful, and I love that. One in particular really stood out – the chapter where Jean tries on clothes in a shop. A simple and mundane activity, yet the effect the experience had on her made it so memorable. I read the whole thing over two days, but I think Life Beyond The Castanets would work well as a book read in small doses, too – a couple of chapters here and there where you can reflect on them afterwards.
I had a feeling that I’d really enjoy Life Beyond The Castanets, and I was right. It’s another interesting, funny, and fascinating travel memoir that really gives you an insight into Jean’s experiences. Some situations are hilarious, and others poignant, but each one is entertaining in its own way, and you’ll honestly feel like you know Jean personally by the end of it.
I’d recommend reading a Kiss Behind The Castanets first as this really lays the foundations for this book. However, if you like to read things out of order (a habit of mine!), then this works as a standalone as well. Definitely a must-read if you love Spanish culture and travelling, and a perfect way to indulge in a foreign country during the pandemic. Hannah Read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 July 2020
Lovely escapism for the C19 lockdown. I read her first book and enjoyed this one too. Interesting with humour and pathos. I like the recipes. But I wish she had written more about daily life at her house, as she tends to go off on a tangent a bit.
Reviewed in Australia on 4 July 2020
Well, I certainly don’t need to be sold on Spain, I love it; even after I read this memoir pointing out the hazards of wild storms, damaged air conditioners, a leaking pool and a toilet facing the wrong way. The author has counterbalanced the trials and tribulations with a search for the perfect wine, a rather crazy week at a language school and a visit to the film set depicting an old American Western town. Oh and don’t forget the hair-raising car rally. It’s quite a ride.
Reviewed in the United States on May 3, 2020
I read the first book in this series, “A Kiss Behind the Castanets” and wondered as I read this, the second, if it could possibly be as good as its predecessor. It is, in fact, in my opinion better. Jean Roberts is a master at lyrical descriptions of Spain and the life she and her husband are living there.
After finding and renovating their Spanish home, it seems like it should be time to kick back, relax, and enjoy. That idea is quickly disabused when on their trip out with Adrian’s father, Brian, they have to stop due to a squealing noise from the wheels. The book proceeds from car troubles, to armed burglars in the neighborhood, to extreme drought, to flooding rain that leads the flamingos in the lake to browse in the sunflower fields. However, interlaced between these disasters are moments of peace and fun. Jean and her husband travel from England to France and on to Spain in an unusual form of transportation and bring us along on the ups and downs of the journey. They take us on other trips to Gibraltar and around Spain and share their new-found appreciation for wine that costs more than 3 Euros. While this is the second book, you can read it without having read the first. However, I highly recommend reading it also. In fact, I am re-reading it myself right now.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 3, 2020
Just finished reading this book in record time for me as i couldn’t put it down. So sad when it was finished as i wanted more. Jean and Adrian have lead such an interesting life. When you think of moving somewhere as warm and beautiful as Spain you think of it as all sunshine and sangria, you don’t realize all that can go wrong in the process. Most people would have thrown in the towel faced with all the problems they met. I have read both of Jean’s books now and hope there are more adventures in the future that she could write about particularly if she does another road trip. Having met Jean and a few of her friends (all be it briefly) it’s so good to be able to put faces to some of the names. in any case it’s just a really enjoyable read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 May 2020
Having read Jean Roberts first memoir A Kiss Behind the Castanets and really enjoying it I was looking forward to reading her second book in the series. I was not disappointed at all. From the beautiful front cover to the end it is an engaging read. She has lots of fascinating and fun tales to tell. I must say she is a rather intrepid lady. Her hair-raising adventures off roading in a jeep had me holding my breath. There’s a lot of fun tales in this delightful book and some rather poignant ones as well.
I could have wept with her as she sat with her feet dangling in her empty pool but I must admit to having a good chuckle at the renovations to her toilet and shower – not to mention the cesspit! Just as well she and her husband have kind hearted and handy Spanish friends.
I do enjoy her warm, conversational style of writing which draws the reader in. You can tell just how fond she is of her home in Spain and her life there. As a bonus there are lots of delicious recipes at the end of the book and I’m going to enjoy trying them out. There’s also a link to photographs of places and events mentioned which I always like. Highly recommended.
Where to purchase Life Beyond the Castanets: