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Playing The Moldovans At Tennis [Paperback]

Tony Hawks
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 July 2007

'All I knew about Moldova were the names of eleven men printed on the inside back pages of my newspaper. None of them sounded to me like they were any good at tennis ...'

An eccentric wager finds Tony Hawks, a man who loves an unusual challenge, bound for the little-known Eastern European state of Moldova. His mission: to track down members of the country's football team and persuade them to play him at tennis. The bizarre quest ultimately has little to do with tennis or football, but instead turns into an extraordinary journey involving the Moldovan underworld, gypsies, chronic power shortages, near kidnap, and a surprisingly tender relationship with his host family.

Follow the fortunes of Tony in this hilarious and often moving adventure as it takes him from Moldova, onwards to Northern Ireland, leading to an exciting denouement in Nazareth - and the naked truth of the bet's final outcome ...

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

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; New Ed edition (5 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091920353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091920357
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.6 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,261 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

Amazon Review

Tony Hawks' debut book, The Round Ireland with a Fridge, was an irreverent satire. The topic of the sequel is even more absurd. Like Round Ireland, it supposedly originates from an obscure bet. This time, Hawks bets he can't track-down the Moldovan football team and beat them all at tennis. The loser must perform the Moldovan national anthem naked on Balham High Road. However, knowledge of tennis and/or football isn't required to enjoy the book.

Hawks' Irish trip was characterised by willing accomplices who joined in the fun. In Moldova, Hawks also expects a good laugh. Despite the rarity of visitors, he receives an apathetic welcome as his mission provokes little more than weak smiles. Tracking down the footballers and persuading them to play turns becomes almost impossible.

The book treads a fine line between brilliant and juvenile, between Jeremy Beadle and the genuinely witty. Hawks' sixth-form joke of presenting a round table to Moldova's new King Arthur is especially cringe-worthy. His experience as a second-division stand-up leads to innumerable trite quips. Still, overall Playing The Moldovans At Tennis is an entertaining, easy read that will make you chuckle. It provides an interesting view of Eastern Europe's post-Communist life, while keeping you in suspense: Will he? Won't he? Suffice to say that, yes, at the end of the book someone does end up naked and singing outside a South London Woolworths. --Sarah Champion --

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Even if you hate tennis and couldn't find Moldova on the map, you'll be charmed. Utterly recommended" (FHM)

"Surprisingly touching as well as incredibly funny" (The Oxford Times)

"I expected to find this book funny, which it is; I didn't expect to find it illuminating and rather moving, which it is too" (Daily Mail)

"This immensely readable account, enriched with moments of true hilarity is, quite honestly, a bit of a gem" (Living Abroad Magazine)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man is back without the Fridge!!! 20 July 2001
Well, if you thought the whole fridge think was mad - Tonys next bet is to play the Moldovan football team at tennis! Not daft in the slightest.
He certainly takes his bets to heart does the guy and never shirks from his (drunken!!) promises. But how the heck do you go about arranging something like that? Read this book and find out - Funny, interesting and completely readable.
You will be perched on the end of your seat as you find out whether or not he reaches his goal and win the bet (much more exciting than many a thriller read) - another absolute must read book.
What is his next bet? ....... I am afraid I can only guess, but it will probably include alcohol somewhere along the line!!! and possibly a bathroom appliance - the mind boggles!!!!!!!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, inspiring, and brilliant 22 Jan 2001
I only bought the book because it was cheap, but what a bargain!
Within 2 pages, I was hooked by the intriguing bet, and made sure I had the book open at every opportunity.
This is by far the funniest book I have read in the last year, and the way Tony Hawks effortlessly injects humour into even the most seemingly dull situation is brilliant.
Like the previous reviewer, I have ordered the "Round Ireland" book, and if it is half as entertaing as this, I won't be disappointed.
Have I mentioned brilliant yet?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read this century 23 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Definitely the best book I've read this century. Once I'd started reading it, it became like my cat - who snored alongside me throughout - impossible to put down.
Tony Hawks has that Bill Bryson ability to make mundane situations seem fascinating and imbued with significance. His descriptions of Moldovan everyday life (hellish public transport, intransigent officials, dour populace) are hilarious and ring true to anyone who has travelled in Eastern Europe.
In all: excellent jokes, lots of splendid digressions and a gripping storyline (ie who will end up getting naked?).
It'll cost you a Moldovan's monthly wage but definitely money well spent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Game 27 Feb 2006
By Emllls
Playing the Moldovans of Tennis is the most amazing read. All through the book you are falling to pieces from laughter. In fact, I don't there is a jokeless page.
Tony does not talk about himself constantly, as a previous reviewer suggests. He often reflects on the sadness and desperation of the people of Moldova, and yet also how easily bonding they are once you get to know them.
His whole story is based on the fact that a seemingly futile quest can inspire hope and a little bit of light heartedness in to the hearts of those who need it most. This is a book that must be red by all. A good game.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected hit! 5 Feb 2000
As a sedentary female,interested in neither football, nor tennis, and definately with no interest in the stupid bets made by drunken men, my heart did not soar when I was given this book. However, I was pleasantly surprised when a bad cold left me temporarily in need of a book to read, and I fell back on this one. Tony Hawks creates the sort of atmosphere in which all things are possible, even the impossible, and wins the heart of all the Moldavians (well, a few of them anyway!)
Is it a good read? Certainly! Do you need to be sporty? Not at all!
I really surprised myself, and enjoyed it thoroughly!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By LadyH
I originally bought this book purely because I have spent some time in Eastern Europe and wanted to see if someone else had the same strange experiences as myself. What I got however, was so much more than that. Despite the warning on the cover I made the mistake of starting to read the book on the bus and will probably be known forever more by my fellow rush hour passengers as "that strange woman who makes sudden and unattractive cackling noises to herself".
Whilst the book is never going to receive official recognition from the Moldovan Tourist Board it does give a realistic and honest portrayal of what life is like in a post-communist country. The relationship Tony develops with his host family is deeply touching and adds a level of feeling which balances nicely against some of the absurd comic situations he finds himself in.
Whether you're looking for a travel diary, comic caper, exploration of Moldovan culture or just want to know who got naked on Balham Road then this book has it for you.
Funniest bit: Tony's intimate relationship with a spare bus tyre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, if occasionally forced 7 Jun 2002
Not a bad book, very funny in spots, but I thought that there were too many jokes -- which sounds like an odd complaint in a humor book, akin to complaining about too much meat in sausages, which come to think about what I've heard about British sausages may not have been the most apt comparison but never mind. What I mean is that rather than rely upon the inherent oddity of the situations he found himself, Hawks seemed to be compelled to insert joking asides -- using wedges and sledgehammers if necessary -- a case of painting the lily, as it were.
I can't comment on the accuracy of his picture of the Moldovans, but I did cringe a bit at the stereotypical portrait of the American radio executive he encountered in Moldova. I expect in the TV version he'd be played by a large, red-faced actor with a loud voice and vowel-crunching enunciation.
Despite these qualms, another fine addition to the literature of Journeys Taken By Comedians to Pay Off Drunken Bets (see also "Round Ireland with a Fridge")
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A proper English giggle with a dash of realistic analysis.
Maybe it is a bit more than a giggle: it does often go beyond a giggle and right into proper laughter territory. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ce Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Great Life
I have just read this book after purchasing it at a Tony Hawks book signing at Hay-On-Wye last year. Read more
Published 7 months ago by London65
3.0 out of 5 stars Amusing
I've read all the other books written by this author and this rates slightly below 'Round Ireland With A Fridge' for humour. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Hawkeye
4.0 out of 5 stars Another hilarious book by Tony Hawks
Thoroughly enjoyable stuff! If you liked "Round Britain with a fridge", you'll love this too. It's the way he says it!
Published 12 months ago by Flojo2
5.0 out of 5 stars HUMOUR BOOK
Good writer - good book. He depicts nprmal" situations in a uniquely humourous way. A good purchase at a fair price
Published 15 months ago by Oastphoto
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
I love Tony Hawks' sense of humour so really enjoyed this book. In my view it's not quite as entertaining as "Around Ireland with a Fridge" but still a super read with a... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Jane
3.0 out of 5 stars An Introduction to a little known country
Light hearted and enjoyable...a good first taste of a small part of the former Soviet Union.

The writer's experiences pretty much match my own
Published 16 months ago by Ken Needham
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun and worth reading
I liked the book it's a good read and really quite amusing - not laugh out loud but a great bedtime book.
Published 17 months ago by Dilys King
5.0 out of 5 stars Hawking Around Moldovia
Typical Tony Hawks humour.
Laugh out loud funny but with a determined sense of purpose.
Very readable.
I recommend it.
Published 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Quite good, but don't think the author is as funny as he thinks he is
I bought this book because I had visited Moldova. I quite enjoyed it - was certainly interesting to read about his experiences, however I don't find him as funny as a he seems to... Read more
Published on 8 May 2012 by Amazon Customer
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