“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison
So I was very pleased to hear that his entertaining blog was being turned into a book and eagerly awaited Kindle download day! I thought I would share my review of the book with you and encourage you to find out more about Ben and his new book via this link to his blog: Books and Bivalves
The book is actually split into two sections, with the first section written by Ben’s wife, Louise. This neatly covers the couple’s first two years of living and moving to Portugal; and gives a different slant on their adventure than Ben’s blog posts.
The second section is written by Ben; and is a more factual section, offering tips, hints and advice on anyone thinking about planning a move to live in Portugal.
The blurb on Amazon outlines the book well: “Many people go on holiday to a beautiful sun-drenched location and say “I wish we lived here.” Louise and Ben Taylor decided to make their dream a reality … ‘Moving to Portugal’ examines the lows as well as the highs, and is essential reading for anyone considering a new life abroad”
This is the bit I enjoyed most – hearing about the move to Portugal from Ben’s wife was a fresh approach – and she writes with a sassy yet down to earth style. She also tells some very funny stories about Ben – which if you are a fan of his blog you will really enjoy … it’s funny how I don’t remember Ben ever mentioning ‘those’ white shorts and his ah-erm ‘accident’ on his blog?!!
Louise also uses lots of normal everyday things to illustrate her writing – the giant cricket and her one night of Medronho mayhem were particular highlights!
She also seems to have the same problems with being understood in Portuguese as me, with amusing results trying to order food in a local bar:
“I was halfway through repeating myself for the fourth time when I realised my mistake. My clumsy phrasing meant that instead of saying that I wanted the dish that the woman was eating, I was asking for the woman herself. Cheeks flaming, I lowered my head and let Ben take care of the rest of the ordering that night.”
I think we might even be related – she loves Christmas, hates being late and leaves Ben to do all the cooking (friends of ours will know that Dave rarely lets me near the kitchen and if we invite friends to dinner they only accept once they are assured that Dave will be doing all of the cooking!)
The Real Algarve
Both Louise and Ben both love the same Algarve as us – the one that is populated with small hidden coves; local food; local friendly people and a country mile away from the over-resorted summer tourist traps.
The book is a delightful mix of stories, travel, local culture and scenery and a genuine desire from a young couple to really embrace the true Portugal – and to become ‘Portuguese’
“The setting sun making the sea turn pink, crumbling walls of ruined houses, bright flowers blooming on salt-lashed cliffs – all of these had somehow crept into our souls and made a part of us Portuguese without us even realising it had happened.”
And a reality check!
One of the most reassuring aspects of the book is a desire to be honest about what life in Portugal is really like – so many people watch ‘ A place in the sun’ and see the blue skies, golden sand and warm sea and decide they want to move to live abroad – but the reality for many is very different. Ben and Louise talk frankly and movingly about why they have chosen a new life in Portugal – and they also recount us with the absolute bureaucratic nightmare that is gaining residency; buying a car and paying tax in Portugal. It’s not for the faint-hearted!
This is where Section two comes to the fore – lots of basic information, guidance and links to other websites and books gives the reader a chance to start exploring what the reality of a move might be like – and what they need to plan for.
Much of the content links back to Ben’s blog; which is a veritable mine of information, advice and articles.
The book is well written, entertaining and ‘real’. It gives a good picture of life in the Algarve; and there were many times when I exclaimed out loud ‘yes!’ or ‘oh good, it’s not just me that happens to!’
I recognised much of the Algarve we have come to love – and also discovered some new names and places to explore too! My only slight criticism of the book is that it is quite short – 203 kindle pages – and as a quick reader I had finished it in less than 2 hours. But it is definitely the type of book you can dip back into – and for those new to the idea of living in the Algarve, this is a book I can highly recommend reading. And for those of you that have been following Ben’s blog since 2009, you will love reading about their move to Portugal from Louise’s angle – and enjoy some new funny stories about Ben along the way!
For more information about the book – and the link to the Amazon feed on Ben’s blog – click here: Books and Bivalves
Please note that this review is completely independent – I purchased the book – and enjoyed reading it – and wanted to review it for you. That’s all!