A Year on a Spanish Mountain
Brilliant, funny, powerfully evocative -the young English author of Duende! and his Spanish wife set out to create a magical garden high in remote Spanish mountains.
This is a romantic, utterly alluring leap into Spanish sunshine, remote mountains and rural life. Jason Webster had lived in Spain for several years before he and his partner, the flamenco dancer Salud, decided to buy a deserted farmhouse clinging to the side of a steep valley in the eastern province of Castellón, near the sacred peak of Penaglosa. With help from local farmers - and from a twelfth-century Moorish book on gardening - Jason set about creating his dream. He had never farmed before, and knew nothing of plants, but slowly he and Salud cleared the land, planted and harvested their olives, raised the healing herbs they learned about from local people, set up bee-hives and nurtured precious, expensive truffles, the black gold of the region. And beyond all this they started to fulfil another vision, bringing the native trees back to the cliffs ravaged by fire.
At the same time they became drawn into the life of the valley: this is a book rich with characters as well as plants. It follows the people of the village from the winter rains to baking summer heat, from the flowering of the almond trees in spring to the hilarious, fiery festivals and ancient pilgrimages, and tells the history of the region through folk-songs and stories of the Cathar and Templar past. Jason and Salud lived through storms that destroyed their roof and fire that swept across their valley, but as the year passed and his farm flourished Jason found himself increasingly in tune with the ancient, mystical life of the sierra, a place that will haunt your imagination and raise your spirits, as it did his.
“Webster has the endearing writer's knack of making us laugh and weep along with him...written in the sympathetic tradition of Chris Stewart's best-selling Driving Over Lemons, but is even better”
“Discursive and appealingly conversational... an inspiring account”
“Webster's style is engaging and elegiac”
Independent on Sunday
“Webster is a clever, hugely readable interpreter of Spain. He is also irrepressible: his work is a master class in involvement...this deserves to be - and undoubtedly will be - one of the most successful books about Spain this year”
Julian Evans, Independent
“Full of romanticism, comedy mishaps and colourful characters, it makes for a deeply personal and highly personable account of one life-changing year”