Chris Stewart’s Memoir “Driving Over Lemons”: A Rugged, Enchanting Adventure in Southern Spain

by | May 22, 2020

Sunflower fields in Spain

Last updated on March 8th, 2023

About this Book

SPAIN – It’s hard to find anything unlikeable about Spain: it’s practically perfect in every way. The weather, food, wine and history make it one of the most compelling and beautiful places I’ve ever been to. 

Stewart, a former drummer in Genesis, is a middle-aged travel writer and professional sheepshearer, who decides to quit England and quite suddenly buys a dilapidated farm without electricity, water or even a road in Andalucia, Spain.  Publisher’s Weekly says: “More than a travel book, this is a record of Stewart’s slowly flourishing friendship with his neighbor, Domingo, and of how Stewart gradually sank roots deep into his beautiful Andalucian hillside. A bestseller in England, this enchanting memoir is likely to prove popular in North America with both armchair travelers and readers who, while curious about the odd life choices others make, would just as soon give scorpions and clouds of flies a miss.” 

Our Take on this Novel 

We loved this book. It’s a contagiously fun story where Stewart romps around the hills of Andalucia, lives simply, and the little moments that make every day special. ‘Driving over Lemons’ is a good adventure, written in a humorous, engaging and down to earth style.   Does it inspire us to pack our bags to Spain? Yes: a solid four out of five.

   Carolyn and Wendy, your book club hosts 

Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía

by Chris Stewart
(Driving Over Lemons Trilogy #1)

No sooner had Chris Stewart set eyes on El Valero than he handed over a check. Now all he had to do was explain to Ana, his wife, that they were the proud owners of an isolated sheep farm in the Alpujarra Mountains in Southern Spain. That was the easy part.

Lush with olive, lemon, and almond groves, the farm lacks a few essentials—running water, electricity, an access road. And then there’s the problem of rapacious Pedro Romero, the previous owner who refuses to leave. A perpetual optimist, whose skill as a sheepshearer provides an ideal entrée into his new community, Stewart also possesses an unflappable spirit that, we soon learn, nothing can diminish.

Wholly enchanted by the rugged terrain of the hillside and the people they meet along the way—among them, farmers, including the ever-resourceful Domingo, other expatriates and artists—Chris and Ana Stewart build an enviable life, complete with a child and dogs, in a country far from home. 


Chris Stewart Driving Over Lemons



Photo Source: Responsible Travel 


Chris Stewart was a member of the original Genesis line-up that came together in 1967 at Charterhouse School in Surrey, England. Prior to Genesis he had been the drummer in The Garden Wall, a short-lived group formed by Peter Gabriel and Tony Banks. Although Peter had started out as a drummer he had quickly become more interested in singing and so Chris took over the drum stool. 

1999 saw the publication of Chris’ book about his experiences of setting up a new life in a foreign country. Driving Over Lemons told the story of how Chris set up home in Spain to farm sheep and oranges and it went on to become an international best-seller.  The ‘sort-of’ sequel A Parrot In The Pepper Tree followed in 2002 and continued the success of the first book.  2006 sees the publication of Chris’ third book The Almond Blossom Society which has already received critical acclaim.

 Chris hasn’t lost touch with music � he now plays guitar and has had the occasional go at playing the drums again. He also attended a Genesis reunion dinner in London in 1998 and was particularly pleased to catch up with his old friend Anthony Phillips from the band’s original line-up. To complete the link, Driving Over Lemons also included back-cover text written by Peter Gabriel. Chris has also been involved as a contributor for two books published in the Rough Guides series � the Rough Guide to Andalucia and the Rough Guide to China.



“My uncle Arsenio want you to shear his sheep with that machine you keep in the stable”……..

This may not see the most momentous of exchanges, but it meant a great deal to me.  I was, for the first time, being offered a part to play in the life of the Alpujarras.  No longer would I be an outsider observing, but I could step inside the scene and become one of the observed.  This was something I had yearned to do in all my years of travelling.


1. What is your favourite part or passage of the book and why?

2. Why do you think he called it “Driving Over Lemons?” What’s the role of optimism in this book? 

3. Ho does looking at the little luxuries of life, like water, make you feel? 

4. Would you change careers as he did? From Genesis drummer to sheep shearer to travel writer? 

5. If you could ask the author one thing, what would it be? 


Author Amit Janco joined us for this book club to share a taste of her journey along the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, and her new book that she wrote about the experience, “(Un)bound Together, a Journey to the End of the Earth (and Beyond).”

Four years after falling through a bridge, Amit Janco set off, like thousands before her, on a pilgrimage of physical healing, along the mythical Camino de Santiago. What was slated to be little more than a rehabilitative adventure of walking across the undulating terrain of northern Spain, would become an unexpectedly gratifying, comical, and, at times, emotionally tumultuous odyssey through physical and emotional recovery, into the very heart and soul of her existence. (Un)bound Together, A Journey to the End of the Earth (and Beyond) is a memoir and testament to healing as a continual process along a path of unpredictable hurdles and revelations.

If you choose to purchase her book, for every 10 books purchased, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the global ALINKER “walking-bike” campaign – providing freedom and the joy of renewed movement to those with limited mobility.

sheep grazing in ireland

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We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

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