The Gilded Chalet: Off-piste in Literary Switzerland
The Gilded Chalet: Off-Piste in Literary Switzerland by Padraig Rooney was not at all what I expected. From the title, I inferred that I would learn interesting facts about writers who were Swiss natives or writers who had lived there and were influenced by the Swiss culture. It sounded like a book that might deliver insight into plots, characters, or locations based on some connection with Switzerland and its history.
Despite Rooney’s commendable amount of research, the book focuses more on literary luminaries who romped their way through Switzerland without understanding it. Because of his fascination with gender identity, ménages à trois, and outrageous behavior in general, the book comes across as less literary theory and more celebrity tell-all. When it does get down to historical aspects, they are mostly negative.
Rather than taking the reader away from the beaten path, Rooney underscores what most have realized for some time: wealthy expatriates frequently end up in Switzerland. The title implies the subject is literature, but the book veers into ruminations about “glitterati, rock aristocracy, royal and imperial has-beens, oily billionaires, anybody seeking the quiet slopes after life’s fitful fever.” Perhaps the fault is not entirely Rooney’s but the subject matter’s.
|Page Count||228 pages|
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