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About the Author: Chris Stewart

Christopher 'Chris' Stewart (born 1951), was the original drummer and a founding member of Genesis. He is now a farmer and an author. A classmate of Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel at Charterhouse School, Stewart joined them in a school band called The Garden Wall, and they later formed another band with schoolmates Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips, called Anon. This band eventually became Genesis in January 1967. Stewart appears on the band's first two singles, "The Silent Sun"/"That's Me" and "A Winter's Tale"/"One-Eyed Hound." Although several demos from Stewart's time with Genesis appear on the Genesis Archive 1967-75 box set, he is not credited with playing on any of them. (Peter Gabriel seems to have played drums on a couple, and the rest do not feature drums.)

At the recommendation of Jonathan King, Stewart was asked to leave the band in the summer of 1968 due to poor technique. He was replaced by John Silver. After travelling and working throughout Europe, Stewart settled and bought a farm named "El Valero" in the Alpujarras region of Andalucia, Spain where he lives and works with his wife Ana Exton and daughter Chloë. He came in last place for the position of local councillor in the 27 May 2007 local elections in Órgiva representing the Green Party, where he received 201 votes (roughly 8%).

He is now better known for his autobiographical books, Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia (1999, ISBN 0-9535227-0-9) and the sequels, A Parrot In The Pepper Tree (ISBN 0-9535227-5-X) and The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society (2006, ISBN 0-9548995-0-4), about his work farming in Spain. All three are also available as audiobooks (Lemons ISBN 0-14-180143-3; Parrot ISBN 0-14-180402-5), and Almond ISBN 0-7528-8597-9, narrated by Stewart.

Stewart's publisher, Sort of Books, announced plans to release yet another Stewart memoir in 2009, this one focused on sailing, entitled Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat.

Stewart has also contributed to two books in the Rough Guides series: the Rough Guide to Andalucia and the Rough Guide to China.


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An Optimist in Andalucia by

Goodreads rating: 3.76

Paperback, Published in Jun 2009 by Sort of

ISBN10: 095600380X | ISBN13: 9780956003805

Page count: 296

When English sheep shearer Chris Stewart (once a drummer for Genesis) bought an isolated farmhouse in the mountains outside of Granada, Spain, he was fully aware that it didn't have electricity, running water, or access to roads. But he had little idea of the headaches and hilarity that would follow (including scorpions, runaway sheep, and the former owner who won't budge). He also had no idea that his memoir about southern Spain would set a standard for literary travel writing.

This rip-roaringly funny book about seeking a place in an earthy community of peasants and shepherds gives a realistic sense of the hassles and rewards of foreign relocation. Part of its allure stems from the absence of rose-colored glasses, mainly Stewart's refusal to merely coo about the piece of heaven he's found or to portray all residents as angels. Stewart's hilarious and beautifully written passages are deep in their honest perceptions of the place and the sometimes xenophobic natives, whose reception of the newcomers ranges from warm to gruff.

After reading about struggles with dialects, animal husbandry, droughts, flooding, and such local rituals as pig slaughters and the rebuilding of bridges, you may not wish to live Chris Stewart's life. But you can't help but admire him and his wife, Ana, for digging out a niche in these far-flung mountains, for successfully befriending the denizens, and for so eloquently and comically telling the truth. The rich, vibrant, and unromanticized candor of Driving over Lemons makes it a laudable standout in a genre too often typified by laughable naiveté. --Melissa Rossi

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