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The Gilded Chalet

The Gilded Chalet

In the summer of 1816 paparazzi trained their telescopes on the goings on of poets Byron and Shelley – and their womenfolk – across Lake Geneva. Mary Shelley babysat and wrote Frankenstein. Byron dieted and penned The Prisoner of Chillon. His doctor, Polidori, was dreaming up The Vampyre. Together they put Switzerland on the map.

Switzerland has always provided a refuge for writers attracted to it as an escape from world wars, oppression, tuberculosis… or marriage. While often for Swiss writers from Rousseau to Bouvier the country was like a gilded prison or sanatorium. The Romantics, the utopians (Wells, D. H. Lawrence) and other spiritual seekers (Hesse), viewed Switzerland as a land of milk and honey, as nature’s paradise. In the twentieth century, spying in neutral Switzerland, spawned espionage and detective fiction from Conan Doyle to Maugham, Fleming, and Le Carré.

Padraig Rooney finds the rooms crammed with curios: lederhosen and Lepidoptera, spas and spies, fool’s gold and numbered accounts. Literary detective work and treasure chest, history and scandal, The Gilded Chalet will make you strap on your skis and go off-piste to find out the real Swiss story.
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Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General / Biography: Literary

On Sale: 5th November 2015

Price: £20

ISBN-13: 9781857886368

Reviews

With a sharp eye for detail and a historian's capacious knowledge, Padraig Rooney has written a superbly amusing guide to all the writers who've been drawn to or emerged from Switzerland. This is a book that should be stuffed into every stocking - the perfect Christmas gift!
Edmund White, author of The Flâneur
Constantly engaging… and highly entertaining. Rooney is almost casually brilliant on Joyce, Nabokov and Mann, but revelatory on such as Durrenmatt and Frisch. He shows a deftness of touch but can, too, be powerful. A love letter to reading that does not shy away from the sins of reality.
The Herald
An enjoyable wander around literary Switzerland. The Gilded Chalet tracks the snow prints, shattered booze-glasses and missed spy drops of the likes of Rousseau, Byron, Hemingway and le Carré, sniffing the air of inspiration they found in the hills, huts and bars.
Wanderlust
A gossipy feel [with a] touch of Clive James in its humour. What has Switzerland ever done for us? Quite a bit.
Irish Mail on Sunday
'A lively and entertaining tour of literary Switzerland. Rooney has an eye for a telling anecdote. Informative and full of surprises, not least the portrait of Switzerland as a hotbed of literature and revolution.’
The Tablet
A fascinating look behind the scenery at how Switzerland has influenced and affected some of the greatest authors and some of my favourite books.
Diccon Bewes, author of Swiss Watching
There is a mastery in his handling of prose-rhythm which I find exciting. It is in order for an ageing writer, in a valediction to Irish readers, to essay a prophecy about Irish letters. Mr. Rooney will be a credit to them.
Anthony Burgess
A fascinating account of how Switzerland has always provided something of a refuge for writers - from war, oppression, tuberculosis and even marriage - as well as an inspiration to them too.
The Bookseller
The Gilded Chalet entertains, informs and whets the appetite for more. And there are more discoveries in Rooney's tasty assortment of literary bonbons.
Portland Book Review