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The Gilded Chalet: Off-piste in Literary Switzerland Hardcover – 5 Nov 2015
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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)
Part detective work, part treasure chest, full of history and scandal, award-winning writer Padraig Rooney takes you on a grand tour of two centuries of great writing by both Swiss and foreign authors and shows how Switzerland has always been at the centre of literary Europe.See all Product description
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If you have been a tourist in Switzerland, buy this book. If you are a reader, buy this book. If you’re both, buy two or three and give them away at Christmas.
The depth of historical research/knowledge that is delivered, often with effortless humour, makes it fascinating reading. I raced through the book devouring the facts, enjoying its wry entertaining style and wishing I had the agility and wit of its author. Even then, not all the humour is Padraig Rooney’s: he has dug up some priceless quotes from individuals both in and outside of the literary world: I will never look at Georges Clemenceau as a dull dog again !
Equally importantly, it has encouraged me to read English novels that I had missed, and try some of the Swiss ones too. It certainly is a must-read, not just for Swiss residents interested in the country that has become their home, but it appeals to a wider audience as well. Even if you had no idea who Joyce or Byron were, discovering what all these writers really got up to when they hung up their pens for the day is compelling reading. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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