Book Review: ‘Spanish Lessons’ by Derek Lambert

spanish lessons - derek lambert 29-4-13
Another foreigner buying a home in Spain. This is not Driving over Lemons, few are as it’s difficult to beat or match the first, but it is an interesting depiction of rural Spain. His description of Pilar’s shop, which sells everything from pickled onions to rat poison, sounds just like the corner shop in our tiny village. We soon learned on moving here that no matter how small the shop, no matter how intimidating the counter which demanded we ask for what we wanted in Spanish rather than select off a shelf, they would sell what we wanted. This proved true in the tiny ferretería, the ironmonger, and at the mercería, the haberdashers, where to the amusement of the line of silver-haired old ladies seated on the line of straight-backed chairs, I struggled to ask for tacking cotton to hem curtains. I left with exactly what I wanted, indeed reels of cotton were taken from two different boxes and offered for my decision. More choice, in fact, than in John Lewis’ haberdahsery department in England. Finally, I love the first chapter about the oh-so-English guilt experienced after pinching an orange from an orchard; how Spanish is the ‘one person one orange’ policy.
5 to remember
el/la extranjero/a – foreigner
el hogar – home
rural – rural
la descripción – description
el veneno – poison

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