Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools by Victoria Twead

Chickens Mules

In this book (the first in a series) the author shares some adventures she and her husband experienced when they first moved to Spain. She acknowledges their move was primarily motivated by her own desire, her husband being less enthusiastic. In view of this divergence, they agreed on a five-year plan to see whether life in Spain would suite them; her husband had been about to retire from Her Majesty’s forces. The compromise reveals their good understanding of what is required for a successful, working relationship.

The book is essentially about their experiences upon entering into, and living in, a totally different society and culture. Their home at the time had been within the traditional confines of Kent so the change was quite dramatic. How many would have dared to purchase a property, in need of extensive renovation, in a foreign land knowing it would initially be just for five years? Most would probably have opted for rented accommodation to see how they found the local environment. But these brave souls went much further. It must be said they were fortunate to have good neighbours as well as an efficient agent and architect. Though that is not to say they did not encounter some problems.

Victoria Twead has a good command of words. She conveys scenes and occurrences in a clear, concise, diverting manner. Her sense of humour is always evident even in the more difficult situations. This style of hers makes the book an easy, light, read but that is not to say it has no depth, it does.

The first part contains effective descriptions of local inhabitants which create real living characters for the reader. However, they will not feel they get to know the author’s husband until later, when there are more detailed and improved portrayals of him.

For those who have not lived in, or spent any length of time, in a foreign culture this is a very entertaining and informative book. However, for those who have, it may not prove so entertaining, due no doubt to the fact they may have had similar experiences. Nevertheless, for all readers, it is interesting to see how someone else has fared in such circumstances. In addition, the author’s sense of humour and keen observations make this an enjoyable read.

The author has done a great job of choosing what to include and what to omit; so much more must have occurred in the five-year period this first book covers. Deciding what to leave out must have been difficult. There are parts where the reader may sometimes think it would be nice to know more of what came about but that is, probably, just curiosity. Anyway, seeing how the author has been careful about the content, such extra inclusions would probably not really enhance the tale here.

The writing is clear, easy, concise and entertaining. The story also moves at a steady humorous pace.

Four stars (4*).

The book is available in paperback and e-book formats.        

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