Matthew Parris's A Castle in Spain is one man's attempt to transform a magnificent forgotten ruin into his own castle.
Walking in the Pyrenees one spring morning Matthew Parris stumbled upon a magnificent ruined mansion standing on the edge of a line of huge cliffs. Later he was to discover that parts of the house dated back to the 14th century though it had not been completed until 1559; and that it had survived two massive earthquakes before falling into disrepair in the early 1960s.
A few years later, seduced by 'one of those foolish challenges that grip us in middle life', Parris bought the house, L'Avenc, and set about restoring it to its full glory. This delightful book chronicles it all: the original discovery, the attempts to discover its history, and then the long effortful years trying to bring it back to life in the face of scepticism from family, friends and Spanish neighbours. The original edition of A Castle in Spain was published in 2005 when the renovations were a work in progress; this new edition triumphantly records all that has happened since.
'Stands apart... This Englishman's castle might have started as a dream, but it has ended up being an extraordinary reality' Sunday Times
'So infectious is his enthusiasm for L'Avenc and the dramatic, unvisited landscape of Collsacabra, that I wanted to leave at once to explore it ... And it's all just a few miles away from the Costa Brava!' Christopher Hudson, Daily Mail
Matthew Parris had a short career in the Foreign Office where one of his tasks was to distribute incoming valedictory despatches. He was a Conservative MP from 1979 to 1986, since when he has worked as a journalist. He is the author of A Castle in Spain, Parting Shots, and A Spanish Ambassador's Suitcase. He divides his time between Derbyshire (where his old constituency was situated) and east London.