A Castle in Spain

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Penguin Books, Limited, May 1, 2012 - Catalonia (Spain) - 253 pages
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"Walking in the Pyrenees one spring morning thirty years ago, Matthew Parris stumbled upon an awesome sight: a magnificent ruined mansion, standing tall, proud and alone in the sunlight, on the edge of a line of huge cliffs high above a river gorge. Unaccountably stately, the stone house's walls and foundations were intact but the floors and stairs were rotting and in places fallen through. The terracotta-tiled roof was leaking and cracked." "Squeezing in past a broken door, Matthew found carved mantelpieces and coats of arms but also sheep roaming the rooms and terrible dilapidation. Later he was to discover that the house - part Gothic, dating back to the fourteenth century, the rest Renaissance, completed in 1559 - had survived two massive earthquakes before falling into disrepair and finally being abandoned in the early 1960s." "The locals shrugged their shoulders sadly. Everyone knew about the great house called L'Avenc but nobody could imagine how or why anyone would ever find the means to save it. The house had no electricity, no floors, no plumbing. It was utterly remote. Renovation would be an epic undertaking - a massive investment of time, money and emotion." "Back in London, caught up in his career at Westminster, Matthew would daydream about the house and whenever he visited family in Catalonia he returned to pay his respects. When L'Avenc went on the market, six years ago, he bought it. It was a wild decision that has 'become one of those foolish challenges that grip us in middle life'. This book chronicles it all. Inspirational and utterly irresistible, it is the full story of one man's 'impossible dream' to transform a forgotten ruin into his very own 'castle in Spain'."--Jacket.

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About the author (2012)

After Cambridge Matthew Parris worked for the Foreign Office before becoming a Conservative MP in 1979. He resigned seven years later, after which he was the parliamentary sketchwriter for The Times for thirteen years. He is now a columnist for The Times and the Spectator, and is also a frequent broadcaster. His highly acclaimed autobiography was published by Viking in 2002, and his most recent book Parting Shots, a collection of diplomats' final despatches, is now available as a Penguin paperback. He divides his time between a flat in London, a house in his former Derbyshire constituency, and the house in Spain which is the subject of this book.

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