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Spanish Steps Hardcover – 26 Aug 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; First Edition edition (26 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224062654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224062657
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 645,785 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

If Tim Moore's Spanish Steps is a prime example of a new kind of travel writing--sardonically funny, quirkily observed and full of bizarre detail--that's good news for readers; if Bill Bryson has forged a whole new genre, who can complain if other writers plough similar fields? Particularly if they do it with as much gusto as Tim Moore. In fact, Moore is actually a rather more penetrating writer than the better-known Bryson, and this tale of a foolhardy pilgrimage with a recalcitrant donkey makes some salient points in between the healthy crop of stinging one-liners.

Moore had been fascinated by stories he'd heard of pilgrimages which many Europeans had taken through sultry and unwelcoming Spanish terrain to Santiago de Compostela. The sub-title says it all: "One Man and his Ass on the Pilgrim Way to Santiago"--and Moore's treacherous donkey is as much a character as the bizarre dramatis personae the author encounters. Everything is against him: weather that saps his resolve at every step of the way, impossible dormitories (some of the funniest sections of the book), eccentric fellow travellers, and an animal that, if it could speak, would be constantly asking "is this journey really necessary?"

Amid the acres of scary impediments that fall into Moore's path, a whole host of detail crowds in that makes Spain come to vivid life: we're given a seat-of-the-pants experience quite as memorable (and occasionally painful) as the author's. The descriptions are priceless:

Unexpected confrontation with full-frontal, Pilsner-bellied German nudity was an occupational hazard in any refugio bathroom… (the man's) wrinkled pilgrim parts now rested on the rim of the sink I was waiting to clean my teeth in…
But many serious points are made--always lightly--about a million subjects (not least the lessons of history) in the delightful pages of Spanish Steps. --Barry Forshaw

Review

'Andrew Sachs's deadpan reading is a joy' -- The Guardian

'At last, a travel book that makes you think but also makes you laugh out loud.' -- Sue Arnold, The Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 6 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
Like many travel books and books about anything to do with places and the people who inhabit or frequent these places, there is an added benefit to having experienced it yourself.To get this book, you don't have to have walked the Camino but it most certainly adds flavour if you have. Or more specifically there is an added glee when you witness Moore's beautiful slapstick unravelling as he makes his way across northern spain to his final destination of Santiago. His struggles are your struggles, the people he encounters you've encountered, and best of all he gives voice to the secret thoughts that played over and over in your mind as you wandered along the way. So if you've walked the Camino I urge you to read Spanish Steps, if you're thinking of walking the Camino I urge you to buy it and read it as soon as you return home, and if you have all ready read it I urge you to walk the Camino and read it again and finally if you have no intention of walking anywhere farther than the corner shop or the bus-stop I urge you to read it and laugh yourself silly. Above all Enjoy.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Jun. 2005
Format: Paperback
Tim Moore has taken me on some extraordinary journeys in the past, from the Tour de France to the Monopoly board via the arctic deserts of Iceland, but I found this one easily the most enjoyable. If you don't fall in love with the infuriating but utterly endearing donkey he takes with him on this Spanish pilgrimage, I'll eat my cat...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Roberts on 22 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the Spain that I know, the northern regions, especially Galicia.

We have a bit of an in-joke in our family about FLAN and it's nice to see someone else with the same sense of humour.

Of the two protagonists, it's difficult to work out which of them is the more photogenic, but I think the four legged one wins on points.

Santiago de Compostela is actually quite a lot nicer than poor Tim's experience but his descriptions of the wretched outskirts of the very nice cities there is totally accurate.

I'm just off to buy all his other books now. I'm so pleased I read this as it's introduced me to a really funny writer.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Josephine on 10 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
I've just finished Spanish Steps and I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes, and not all of them are tears of laughter.

A truly entertaining yet also surprisingly touching read, Spanish Steps is another Tim Moore classic. Laughter and tears, high jinx and low ebbs, fascinating history and hysterically funny observations, it had everything I hoped for from one of my favourite authors. (And the photo of Shinto rolling on the ground in the Plaza de Toros still has me chuckling every time I look at it - I love that donkey!)

A real pilgrims-eye view of life on the road to Santiago, Tim Moore tells it like it is and how it was for pilgrims present and past. From not even knowing about the Camino de Santiago I now feel I've walked it, donkey and all!

Bring on the next adventure..!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "jasonscates" on 1 Oct. 2004
Format: Hardcover
A book about a pilgrim travelling across Spain with a donkey is not the sort of book I would normally read, and indeed if someone other than Tim Moore had of written it, I wouldn't have even picked it up. But that would have been a mistake.
After "French Revolutions" and "Do Not Pass Go", Spanish Steps starts off slowly, rather like a donkey being pulled towards Santiago. However Moore's humour comes to the fore quickly, I laughed out loud at his struggles to keep his ass under control, the way Shinto the donkey is "an unlikely babe magnet", and his struggles with Spain, the Spanish and everyone and everything else he encounters on the way to Santiago.
Moore's reminiscences of his journey are equally humourous, sad, mellon-collie, frustrating, thought provoking and heartwarming, and that is normally within 2 pages of the book. Along with this he paints a picture of Spain that, knowing Spanish people as I do, is remarkably accurate.
Altogether this is an excellent read, don't be put off by the book's concept - this is a travel book, about a voyage of discovery, with a donkey in tow, and a mighty fine book it is too. Unless your name is Shinto you shouldn't have to be dragged down the road to read a copy of this
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "jasbee" on 2 Feb. 2005
Format: Hardcover
Having read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Moore's other books, with the exception of Do Not Pass Go, which I plan to get to at some point, I had high expectations for this one. For anyone who hasn't read anything by Moore, the usual drill is that he embarks upon some sort of journey or "quest" (cycling the Tour de France, doing the Grand Tour, that sort of thing), and writes a highly amusing, historically informative book about his travels.
The premise for this book follows much the same pattern -- Moore decides to walk across Spain on a pilgrimage to Santiago, as thousands of Christians have done before him. But he doesn't go alone. Put off by the thought of having to carry bags of clothes and supplies while trekking under a burning sun, he enlists the help of Shinto the donkey, who becomes his reluctant companion, local celebrity, the centrepiece of many a tourist holiday snap and the cause of many of the funnier moments in this book.
If I were to be honest I'd have to say that Spanish Steps probably doesn't have quite as much in the way of embarrassingly-loud-laughter-on-the-bus moments as his previous efforts do, but the funny bits when they do come (and they're still pretty frequent -- often, as I mentioned above, as the result of Shinto and his bridge-hating, Moore-taunting antics) are every bit as good as I've come to expect from the author who wrote the funniest book I've ever read (Frost on my Moustache). Some of his descriptions of refugio living conditions and his fellow pilgrims -- a highly eclectic group of whom we see a lot along the way -- are priceless.
For all Moore's comedic, often cynical, outlook, there are some deeply poignant moments in the book, and no shortage of historical information. The end even brought a wee tear to the eye.
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