Travel to a small Spanish village called El Hoyo and stop awhile to visit with Vicky, Joe, and their wonderful neighbors who seem more like characters from an entertaining novel than real people. Even their friends who come to visit are unique and fun-loving. Vicky and Joe are able to laugh at themselves and respectfully laugh with their neighbors who are so culturally different.
Enjoy their frustrations as they remodel a "home" that lacks the amenities enjoyed in their life in England. The author allows the reader to "enjoy" the obstacles they encounter because she and her husband face challenges with a remarkable sense of humor.
My favorite scene in the memoir was of the couple sitting on an abandoned, yellow vinyl sofa in their orchard being entertained by their family of chickens. All, of course, had been given names to suit their personalities and quirky natures. The Tweads took pleasure in the small passing moments that many are too busy to notice or enjoy. The couples' ability to relate chicken cliches to their own brood was delightful.
Photographs add to the reader's images of life in this small, hole-in-the wall village. Hoyo, after all, does mean hole in Spanish. Spanish recipes are an added bonus. If you are in the mood for an escape to a charm-filled village with an upbeat couple, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools is the place to visit.
These three stories need to be retold in a recorded book with the South Carolina drawls of sweet Miss Genevieve and Cousin Corrie. These gentile, southern ladies were once masters at ghost-story-telling at the Brookgreen Gardens in Merrells Inlet, South Carolina. Lynn Michelson does and excellent job of passing on their ghostly legends. I wonder if the spirits of Genevieve and Corrie don't pleasantly haunt those gardens still?
Each ghost story contains details from South Carolina lowcountry history. A map is provide for those who aren't familiar with that part of the country. Michelsohn does more to bring the stories alive when she concludes and personalizes the book by describing her own experiences visiting Brookstone Gardens. I enjoyed the author's writing here as much as I did in the ghost stories.
"In those simpler days, visitors to Brookgreen Gardens turned off the narrow pavement of Highway 17, the King's Highway, onto two parallel ribbons of concrete spaced far enough apart to support the wheels of a car. Visitors drove slowly along those concrete ribbons through the wooded deer park. . . . (p. 28)
"After a leisurely stroll through the Live Oak Allee, with perhaps a detour into the Palmetto Garden, a peek inside the Old Kitchen, and a dip of the fingers into the cool water of the Alligator Bender Pool,. . ." (p. 28)
"I. . . enjoyed playing hide-and seek among sun-dappled sculptures and looking for painted river turtles sleeping on logs that floated in the old rice field swamps. I loved darting from the shelter of one live oak canopy to the next during summer showers." (p. 29)
Ms. Michelsohn perceives her surroundings with the eye of a talented writer. This suggests that she has the ability to write fiction that could pull the reader right into the story and setting. It also suggests that an autobiography could provide an very appealing read.