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Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist Paperback – 22 Feb 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (22 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349114641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349114644
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 164,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

There won't be a funnier or more original contender until Tim Moore publishes his next volume ... There hasn't been such a fresh voice among itinerant writers since Redmond O'Hanlon or Bill Bryson got started (SPECTATOR)

Regularly had me laughing out loud (SUNDAY TIMES)

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)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 21 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
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 (amazon.com) 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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By Rich VINE VOICE on 13 May 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is certainly one of Tim Moore's best. The premise and writing style is very similar to "Frost On My Moustache"; find a travelogue by a largely forgotten historical figure and recreate his journey. As always, there's lost of self-deprecating humour and wry observations, coupled to his growing affection for the man whose journey he is recreating.
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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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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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By St. Mym VINE VOICE on 11 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
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!".
The structure creaks audibly in places, and some sections are overly formulaic examples of his sense of humour. That may have struck me more than other readers here as I was reading it out loud to someone else 20 pages a night or so. With Frost we were often reduced to giggling uncontrollably at each other - not with this.

The best bit is Venice IMO.
It'd be nice if he came back to it and gave it a good rewrite one day - if you're reading Tim, do you feel this was too rushed?
Having said that, I'll definitely get whatever else he writes as he's always good value.
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I have read this book about a dozen times; it is hilarious! I love Tim Moore's writing and would say I am inspired by it. I am always eagerly awaiting the next book. BUT please, please, please release this book on Kindle too!!!
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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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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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