Book Review: ‘A Castle in Spain’ by Matthew Parris

a castle in spain - matthew parris 29-4-13
This not a travel book, more a book about restoring a house in a foreign country. It is a book about a dream, of going on holiday to the same place year after year and looking longingly at una masa, an old country house, and thinking ‘what if’, and then one day going on holiday and seeing a ‘se vende’ sign. The house, L’Avenc’, almost inevitably turns out to be a black hole for euro notes. In a tale familiar to anyone who has ever taken on a labour of love in a foreign country, Parris describes the battles with the house, the countryside, and his own common sense in the easy-to-read style we have come to know from his work as a journalist and broadcaster in the UK. Half the house in Catalonia is Gothic, half Renaissance, most of it is slumped though solid. But it is the water supply that turns into a bigger problem than the stone walls and foundations. Parris obviously loves it. He says in the introduction, ‘[This] is a book about a house. I have written it because I think the house matters… L’Avenc is the strong character in these pages. L’Avenc is the personality I want to introduce, the individual I hope you will remember.’
5 to remember
se vende – For Sale
el castillo – castle
una labor realizada con amor – a labour of love
una batalla – battle
el campo – the countryside

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