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Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist [Paperback]

Tim Moore
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist 4.2 out of 5 stars (18)
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Book Description

22 Feb 2001
"They stuck their coaches on ride-on, ride off ferries, whisked through France and Italy moaning about garlic and rudeness, then bored the neighbours to death by having them all round to look at their holiday watercolours". Most people associate the Grand Tour with the baggy shirted Byrons of its 19th-century heyday, but someone had to do it first and Thomas Coryate, author of arguably the first piece of pure travel writing, "Crudities", was that man. Tim Moore travels through 45 cities in the steps of a larger-than-life Jacobean hero incidentally responsible for introducing forks to England and thus ending forever the days of the finger-lickin'-good drumstick hurlers of courts gone by. Coryate's early 17th-century bawdy anecdotes include being pelted with eggs, pursued by a knife-wielding man in a turban and, finally, being vomited on copiously by a topless woman with a beer barrel on her head. Tim Moore has no trouble keeping up the modern-day side. And his authentic method of travel to replicate these adventures? A clapped-out Rolls Royce, of course.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (22 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349114641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114644
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,274,641 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Moore's writing has appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Observer, The Sunday Times and Esquire. He is the author of French Revolutions, Do Not Pass Go, Spanish Steps, Nul Points and I Believe In Yesterday. He lives in London.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Tim Moore's first book, Frost on My Moustache had one reviewer setting him up as a "contender for Bill Bryson's crown as king of comic travels". That successful debut is now followed with this offering--a journey in the style of Byronesque "Grand Tours" of Europe. Travelling in a clapped-out Rolls Royce, Moore follows the trail of the first recognised British tourist of Europe, a 17th-century pastor's son named Thomas Coryate.

There is certainly something of Bill Bryson in Moore's style, and this book is reminiscent of Neither Here Nor There. He cracks similar slapstick quips and travels with a liberal dose of self-irony. His jokes are frequently brilliantly judged and have you laughing out loud.

Moore writes moving passages about Coryate and his ultimately tragic story, yet, in spite of its undoubted merits, Continental Drifter turns into something of a disappointment. By the end--perhaps because the first 100 pages are so good--it feels as though Moore could have done with a more severe editor. The book drags through the second half, when Moore's comic timing diminishes along with his enthusiasm for the journey--and I'm not just saying that because he coins "toby" as a new word for sewage. --Toby Green


'Hilarious' -- OBSERVER

'His is a rare comic talent, and his debut a brilliantly sustained piece of travel writing' -- THE TIMES

'One of the funniest travelogues you will ever read' -- EXPRESS

'Regularly had me laughing out loud' -- SUNDAY TIMES

'There won't be a funnier or more original contender until Tim Moore publishes his next volume.' -- SPECTATOR

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Class 21 Jun 2001
By A Customer
Without doubt the funniest travelogue I have ever read. On the face of it the concept is a simple one, to follow the route of the 'first' Grand Tourist yet as the book progresses I was surprised by how little I knew of this fascinating historical phenomenon. However this is not just a hugely witty read as the book is also packed full of well researched facts and quotes which are intertwined cleverly to support his own journeys experiences. The down to earth honesty of his observations and ability to express thoughts which we've all had but simply cannot present so humorously allows the reader to really 'enter' the book and appreciate his perspective. Most important for me though is his ability to mix praise with criticism without becoming entangled in the Politically Correct fad which plagues so much of today's travel writing. Questions are asked and issues addressed which in some instances still remain very delicate but are dealt with sensitively rather than being trivialised through satire. I await the publication of French Revolutions with great anticipation, lets hope he can maintain the wonderfully high standard he has set himself.
Having to put the book down after the final page was a thoroughly depressing experience but if you fancy a chuckle which I suspect Tim Moore would share why not check the American reviews ( where a couple of readers awarded a miserable 2 stars citing him as "an out of shape curmudgeon" and as being surprisingly difficult to comprehend despite an appreciation of Dickens .... cannon fodder for the next book I reckon!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Bryson 30 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having been a fan of Bill Bryson for many years I was delighted when I discovered Tim Moore a few years later, as I definitely saw parallels. With Continental Drifter, Moore out Brysons Bryson! I haven't laughed so much at a book since I first read Cold Comfort Farm 40 years ago. Simply one of the funniest travel books ever! I loved Spanish Steps too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another "laugh out loud" classic 1 Feb 2010
This was the third Tim Moore I'd read (after Spanish Steps and French Revolutions) and I enjoyed it as much as the other two. The author's observations and descriptions of his every day A to B is hilarious - not many books have had me laughing out loud on regular occassions. The research into the Grand Tourists of yesteryear is really fascinating as are the historical references throughout the book. Laugh a minute and you learn a lot - a great read.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very much NOT his best book. 1 Feb 2002
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Maybe Tim Moore is the victim of the very high standard of the books that came before and after this one. For some reason, he doesn't really seem that interested in what he is doing in Continental Drifter. The idea is a good one -- trying to recreate the Grand Tour -- but it is all a bit flat compared with his other adventures, as described in "Frost on my Moustache" and "French Revolutions". But, hey, it is not bad book by any means. It is interesting and informative, even if it doesn't grab you like the others, which show real genius.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very funny book 13 Aug 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Tim Moore clad in a purple, velvet suit and driving a clapped-out Rolls Royce, follows Thomas Coryate (The original Grand Tourist & travel writer) around Europe.
Learn words like drainscrote & chuffjuggler as Moore draws comparisions of his own misadavntures with those of his 17th Century guide.
You will need a bookmark however - as Mr Moore does write exceedingly long chapters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Funnier than a hot date with a walrus 5 Feb 2001
By A Customer
After having loved and laughed at Moore's last book about travelling around Iceland ('Frost on My Moustache'), I begged and nagged a journo-friend to get me a review copy to take on holiday with me. And boy, am I glad I did - it's even funnier than 'Frost'. Tim Moore travels round Europe in a monstrous Rolls Royce and an even worse velvet suit like a jumped-up student backpacker (with apparently the same budget) following in the footsteps of the rather pitiful Thomas Coryate, the man who gave Britain the fork. It's not travel writing as we know it; you never get Bill Bryson washing his underpants in a bidet or being on the receiving end of a really bad mullet in a swiss unisex hairdressers. And if you don't cry tears of pain when he takes a boat out on the canals of venice then there's something wrong with you. A really, really funny book.Really.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Similar to Bryson 7 Nov 2002
I hoped to find a more informed version of Bryson. I really enjoyed the tie-in of this travelogue with that of Coryate, the 'first Grand Tourist'. The use of this text, and what we learn of Coryate, was first rate. Thought provoking, sad and very funny. But the description of the places visited on the journey itself could have been written by Bryson: just as good as Bryson, but not better.
Perhaps Moore really did just whip round Europe and write it up as he went. If he wrote notes and embroidered them when he came back a bit more background reading first would have made this a stunning book.
I'd just been to Venice when I read Continental Drifter, and found the bit on this city frustratingly short, and thin on background. To say the least I don't write as wittily, but I knew enough about Venice to have written this after the first 2 days there. And this was the feeling I had for most of the book. I enjoyed reading it, but was glad to get to the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 1 month ago by Paul
3.0 out of 5 stars Less of Tim Moore and more of Thomas Coryate please
This is my second Tim Moore book I have read after reading his book on travelling around unloved Britain and this book for me does not live up to that one. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Miss L. Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, well written, brilliant!
I loved this book! It was very hard not continuously laughing out loud. You really felt you were alongside Tim Moore on his travels. Read more
Published 21 months ago by charlotte morgan
4.0 out of 5 stars A good traveling companion
Tim Moore takes the reader on his variant on the Grand Tour....a well worn theme - however he certainly puts his own mark on it. Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2012 by The Dunkirk Spirit
1.0 out of 5 stars A yawn
This was the first Tim Moore I'd read, and it will be the last. I can't believe I'm going to be the the only one-star review so far. Read more
Published on 22 Aug 2009 by A. L. Kerr-phillips
5.0 out of 5 stars Armchair travelling at its finest and funniest
This book is both witty and informative and should take pride of place in every thinking-man's library. The wry humour should be universally appreciated.
Published on 8 Nov 2008 by J. E. Holmes
5.0 out of 5 stars a good narrator makes a great book the best
after reading a few readers' reveiws, i'd like to recommend the audio version narrated by Michael Wade. Read more
Published on 13 July 2006 by C. A. Abraham
3.0 out of 5 stars Too rushed.
Frost on my Moustache had me in stitches - this has it's moments but it really. really feels like the publishers (or whoever) said "do another one, fast!". Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2001 by St. Mym
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