Part detective work, part treasure chest, full of history and scandal, The Gilded Chalet 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 center of literary Europe. Two centuries after the Romantics went there to invent Gothic horror, the lure of Switzerland hasn't left us. Writers from the Fitzgeralds to Fleming, Highsmith to Hemingway, Conan Doyle to le Carré, came to escape world wars, political persecution, tuberculosis. They came for sanctuary (from oppression or the tax man), for fresh air and nude sunbathing, for scenery resembling, as Rooney puts it, 'Mother Nature on steroids.' Patricia Highsmith spent her last years in a granite home in Ticino with a fridge containing little but peanut butter and vodka. Hermann Hesse had himself buried to the neck as a cure for alcoholism. Nabokov chased butterflies and played tennis on the hotel courts. When it comes to literature, it seems all roads lead to Switzerland. Padraig Rooney peers through the chalet windows and discovers how Switzerland has influenced some of the greatest authors and characters of literature.