I enjoyed this book, mostly for the same reasons that I enjoyed Frances Mayes’ first book about moving to Tuscany: there’s something very appealing about the idea of pulling up stakes and moving to a country different than one’s own. The call of the exotic, and all that.
In this case the destination is San Miguel de Allende in the Mexican altiplano 4 hours drive from Mexico City, and the time is 1985 to 1999. Cohan and his partner Masako were there on extended stays for four years, and then bought a large but rundown house. He was a writer (of course) and she an artist, so both of them were able to work and make a living whether in Mexico or in LA - quite a nice situation to be in. They were there starting just before the big commercialization that took place, and so were able to enjoy the town in its more or less pre-NAFTA, pre-capitalized days, and stayed to watch the inevitable gentrification.
The book is very much about the town and about Mexico. So much so that at the end you realize that you actually have very little sense of the people in the book - the author, Masako, their various friends in San Miguel - very few of them seem much more than names and partial histories. That’s probably for the best - the place and time are the true protagonists in this story.