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A Piano in the Pyrenees: The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains [Paperback]

Tony Hawks
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
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Book Description

4 May 2006
If you had to pick two things you wanted - if you had to - what would you pick? I hesitated. This was a bigger question than usually got asked at these post-match debriefs. 'I suppose the honest answer would be,' I said, still accessing the last pieces of required data from a jumbled mind, 'meeting my soul mate, and finding an idyllic house abroad somewhere...' Inspired by breathtaking views and romantically dreaming of finding love in the mountains, Tony Hawks impulsively buys an idyllic house in the French Pyrenees. And here, he imagines, he will finally fulfil his childhood fantasy of mastering the piano, all the while overlooking spectacular views as the troubles of the world pass by unnoticed. Tony's hopelessly ill-prepared stumbling into the world of overseas home ownership is perhaps best read as a useful manual of how not to go about buying a house abroad. He flirts with the removal business in a disastrous attempt to take his piano over to France in a dodgy white van; foolishly elects to build a swimming pool himself; and takes his experience of relationships to a new level when he finds himself co-habiting, not with a beautiful French woman, but with his old mate Ron the builder from West London. Yet, as Tony and his small group of friends haplessly attempt to integrate themselves into local village life, they learn more about themselves and each other than they ever bargained for. And for at least one of them, love is found at last, in the most unexpected of places...

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A Piano in the Pyrenees: The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains + Round Ireland With A Fridge + Playing The Moldovans At Tennis
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (4 May 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091902673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091902674
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.4 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 658,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Hawks lives in London. He leads a diverse life and has various 'jobs', such as performing stand up comedy, appearing as a panellist on TV and radio (Have I Got News For You, Just A Minute, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue), acting, writing, playing tennis, and making music.

Product Description


"Hugely entertaining" -- Daily Mirror

Book Description

A hilarious adventure in France from bestselling author Tony Hawks --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good effort 2 Feb 2007
Tony Hawks is a fine author of light hearted 'travel books'. He has certainly been around in his time, and his latest adventures to the Pyrenees provides an entertaining diary of his experiences.

This book not does have the same comic content as when Tony made his pilgrimage around Irland, but then draging a fridge around the Emerald Isle is hard to follow. Saying that, there are still a lot of light hearted moments.

I share some of Tony's experiences, being another Brit who has moved abroad, and this makes many of the stories in this book all the more relevant to me as a reader. Getting used to and accepted into a foreign culture is no easy taks, but Tony jumps in with both feet. It is pleasing to see that he is more than willing to make a fool of himself through his use of the French language and other English eccentricities - a must if you are truely going to fit in.

A good read. Pleasant, interesting and witty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant way to spend a few hours 28 April 2008
Tony Hawks is one of those people who's been around for ages and is pretty much a professional panellist on the various comedy shows which pervade TV and radio. This is the second book I've read of his and I very much enjoyed it. His wit shines through certain chapters - such as the 'white van saga' and various other things. It isn't 'laugh out loud' funny, but it's amusing enough.

The French villagers seem to be a strange lot though and you get the impression that Hawks has embellished them a fair bit to shoehorn some more comedy into the book. The ending is a bit of a whirlwind, which in some ways doesn't ring true. All in all, it's a good book to while away a summer's day or to lull oneself into a (refreshing) state of slumber in the evening.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant read, but in over-familiar territory 22 Jan 2007
Tony Hawks is a talented humorist and I have to admire his willingness to share some embarrassing episodes with the reader. For me the problem is that the ground covered in this book has been covered so many times before in books like "A Year in Provence" (though Hawks's book is funnier) and countless TV programmes, so there is an inevitable feeling of déja vu when reading it. Aside from that criticism, the book is a good holiday read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by the piano... 8 Aug 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Lovely book. But it's not quite like his others. Here there's no eccentric quest that the author sets himself at the beginning and nor is this a journey in the traditional travel-book sense of visiting a new place each chapter, but more, a sort of soap opera set in a small Pyrenean village with Hawks as the latest cast member, and, dare I say it, a slightly spiritual journey which makes the reader wonder what he or she wants from life. The subtitle "The Ups and Downs of an Englishman in the French Mountains" is a more accurate description of Hawks's latest adventure - the piano only plays a bit part, those of you disappointed with "Wonderland" will be pleased to learn. All in all, I liked this book. It made me giggle and it was also a very inspirational story - let's face it, we'd all love to up sticks and move to the south of France, wouldn't we? However, it does lose some appeal because it's not something we can all do (it all sounded jolly expensive to me) and so it is more difficult to relate to than the standard travel book in which we can always imagine ourselves in the author's shoes. If you enjoyed his other books, buy this one.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's not quite as fast paced as Hawks' other titles, but it *is* a good read. If you travel and have driven abroad then you'll sympathise with much he experiences, and if you've thought about buying or moving abroad, then you'll really get something out of this. How he integrates into French village life, the saga of his pool, the builder who lives with him, the interesting characters he meets and how he struggles (blimey, if only I could speak French that well!) with the lingo: all great stuff. I read this under blue skies abroad and found it relaxing and entertaining. Good flowing writing style, gentle but good humour, and real life.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good humour throughout 9 Aug 2006
An ideal book to take on holiday - undemanding, funny and totally amusing. Tony Hawks has followed his earlier books with another inspired real-life account of his travels and encounters, this time in his efforts to purchase a house in the French Pyrenees and settle down to the routines of French village life.

As usual, there are many set-piece events (such as his troubles with an old white-van, or his efforts to find a girl-friend) which warm the reader's heart to his overall good humour and laid back approach to the inevitable trials of life.

This time, the book has less joyous sections, where Hawks writes of loss of friendship, and the difficulties of living alone which add a welcom realism to what would otherwise be just another Bryson-esque "funny man has an adventure" book.

I would highly recommend this book for a long train journey, a day in the sun, or just perhaps a few evenings in with a bottle of wine and some comfort food.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good 16 Aug 2006
I have to agree with the general consensus that not as much goes on in this book as in Hawks' previous titles and so some may be disappointed when making comparisons. However, it did make me laugh frequently and I quite enjoyed the gentle pace of the book which seemed to suit the slower pace of life the author was seeking by moving to France. If you want more plot action and/or more detailed observation of French life then this is probably not the book for you but I enjoyed it as a generally amusing story that held my interest and made me smile frequently.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very pleased
Published 1 day ago by Mrs Lesley S Larsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great read, very funny!!!
Published 23 days ago by miss a l slack
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
I loved this book, Tony Hawks is thoroughly entertaining.
Published 27 days ago by Angie O
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely love tony hawks
Absolutely love tony hawks! His books are great. I'm on the forth one now but will feel a little sad when I've come to the end of it, as I don't think there are anymore left to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Karl Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book
I just love the way Tony Hawks writes and the situations he gets into. He is someone you can relate to. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Irene Smirh
5.0 out of 5 stars love his style
Read just about all of his books and they are such fun and a good read. You can really hear his voice in the pages
Published 4 months ago by Nel
4.0 out of 5 stars Overly Lucky main character.
The main character buys a house in France without speaking the language, without a solicitor and purely trusting everyone. It was the first and only house he saw. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars So true
Having visited the area several times over the last year and fallen in love with the mountains I resigned from my busy life and came out to join friends who live in the Campan... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jacky Broadbent
1.0 out of 5 stars Self Indulgent Rubbish!!
It's certainly true you can't judge a book by it's cover. I recently read "McCarthys Bar" which was funny, informative, had plenty of heart and was full of believable situations. Read more
Published 13 months ago by holhan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Piano in the Pyrenees
What a great book and funny all the way through. Tony Hawks has a wonderful gift of putting his experiences to paper.
Published 13 months ago by Barbara Rolls
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