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A Handful Of Summers

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  75 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
A Handful of Summers is a cult classic. It's a delightfully uninhibited insider's account of tennis on the international circuit - both on and off the court - in the fifties and sixties, the glory days of Fred Perry, Roy Emerson, and Virginia Wade.

Forbes begins with his childhood on a farm in South Africa, where he learned to play tennis on a gravel court. His game takes

Published (first published June 12th 1978)
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Andrew Schirmer
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This should have been called A Sport and a Pastime. Balls 'n broads. Written with a kind of tender naivete that is by turns charming and frustrating. A world when tennis was dominated by talented amateurs, before money truly spoiled things.
Jeff Kelleher
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Is there any player on the tennis tour today who could write with as much luster and hilarity as Gordon Forbes did in this memoir of the 50s and 60s? None has appeared. Djokovic has a playful side. Agassi's ghostwritten memoir was gripping, but serious. Federer, Nadal, and Murray can deliver a polished courtside speech ("I knew he would be tough and I would have to play my best....I always love coming to Cincinnati").

The game itself has reached a velocity and intensity unimaginable in Forbes's t
Merritt Phillips
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
My expectations were too high for this book. It is out of print and so I had to order it from a used book seller who then didn't have it so I had to order it from someone else. By the time I got it I was so excited to finally read it that I was a bit let down. In the first chapter the writing style is great as the author tells about growing up in South Africa and playing tennis. I did enjoy reading about how the tennis world functioned before it became big money, those were the days. Based on th ...more
Jonathan Pool
Written in 1978 this comes across as horribly dated.
I realise that the whole point of a memoir of events set in the 1950's is to reminisce and rue the changes ( in this case in Sport-tennis) and to focus on changed times; but that's no excuse for the writing.
The anecdotes are hardly hilarious or enlightening. There's recurrent sexism bordering on mysogeny throughout.
I'm a tennis player and know at first hand just about all the UK venues referred to in "A handful of Summers". Despite this familia
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved the fact this book was about an era before the tennis world was filled with superstars and their bulging bank balances. It transported me back to a time in recent history, when life seemed to be less complicated and more fun. Full of hilarious anecdotes about tennis champion Gordon Forbes's life and his career.
May 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a hoot!! If you are at all a fan of tennis, then Gordon Forbes' Handful of Summer is worth the read.

Before the agents, the celeb tennis pros and all the glamour and trappings of today's pro circuit - there was a somewhat lackadaisical approach to the tour. This book tells the story of tennis when most of the players were amateurs and the pro tour as we know it today did not exist.

It's an up close and personal look at some of tennis' biggest names who laid the groundwork for today's game.
Walter Stevens
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book covers the tennis circuit at a time when "shamateurism" reigned, from the persective of a South African player. Forbes is honest and droll, and although the era is long gone, the writing depicts a special time in tennis' development into a global game. Even perhaps, a better time than now. I loved it, and heartily recommend it.
Suman Srivastava
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Rohit Brijnath recommended this book on Saturday. He said that it was the best book written by a sportsman that he had ever read. High praise from the best sports writer in the world. So, of course, I had to read it. The book lived up to its seeding. Some lovely anecdotes from looking gone era told with a great sense of humour and no ego. Enjoyable weekend reading.
Kang-Chun Cheng
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
probably one of my favourite memoirs ever
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports, tennis
Forbes is an amusing writer. I feel I have truly caught a glimpse of the tour before it turned pro. There are some naughty tales, but I doubt you will really get your knickers in a twist about that. Why not 5 stars? It is a collection of memories which makes it somewhat stop-start-ish. Worthwhile finding in a used bookstore.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it liked it
This memoir is an interesting look into the early history and spirit of the game of tennis -- before it was all money and fame. Very refreshing. The personal antedotes were fun, but the endless lists of names of players left me thinking that my tennis education is lacking. Funny in places, bittersweet in others, and worth a read if you have more than a passing interest in the game.
Richard S.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
A Handful of Summers is a delightful memoir about pre-professional tennis when amateurs played mainly for the love of the sport, rather than big bucks. You don't have to be a player to enjoy this book, but it helps!
Mar 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite people in real life wrote this book, but that doesn't mean it's not good. An entertaining account of a young boy's life and the time before tennis was as commercialised as it is now.
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Jul 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Snail in Danger (Sid) by: Patrick McEnroe's Hardcourt Confidential
Shelves: sports, memoir
Once we got past the narrator's quest to lose his virginity — seriously, an irritating amount of time was devoted to a young boy's interest in girls and sex — this was an interesting tale of how things worked in the time before the Open era of tennis.
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
Just loved it. Funny, entertaining and gives real insight.
Conor Cronin
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written autobiographical account of the tennis world just as it began the so-called "Open era". Often immature, sometime chauvinist, but consistently honest and entertaining.
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