Talking Location With … author Simon Carr, Beira Beixa, Portugal
Chatting with author Daniel Pembrey, and 5 Great Books set across Alpine Countries
22nd June 2018
I recently caught up with author Daniel Pembrey and was delighted to hear more about his adventures travelling in the footsteps of James Bond, who covered substantial parts of the Alps in his career as 007. Author Ian Fleming was very familiar with then Alpine landscape, as he went to school in Austria and then went on to live in Geneva, so the snow and scenic mountains were very much in his blood and a perfect setting for daredevil scenes in the books and films.
Daniel’s ultimate destination was the new Bond-themed visitor attraction near Sölden on the Gaislachkogel in Austria, the amazing 007 ELEMENTS situated at 3050M above sea level and kept at a very cool 1C to avoid any complications with the permafrost foundation. Many scenes for Spectre were filmed there. Doors open 12th July 2018.
Daniel had the privilege of driving a Range Rover hybrid, the Autobiography, a four wheel drive with the facility for a hot stone massage as you navigate the switchbacks and backwaters of this mountainous region (with just a twinge of nostalgia for Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, he says). From Zurich he headed to Wollerau (incidentally home of tennis legend Roger Federer) and on to the Pilatus Aircraft Factory (doubling as Goldfinger’s Smelting Works). Not to be missed was the revolving restaurant atop the Piz Gloria featured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
A stop at Andermatt – the sleepy town that has been transformed by Egyptian billionaire Samih Sawiris into a luxury resort – is redolent of Goldfinger escapades, crowned now by the 5* Chedi Hotel. And on the home straight he drove via Locarno and on into Austria, and up to Sölden for the culmination of his 007 trip.
You can read the full and fascinating article in the Telegraph here
Tina for the TripFiction Team
And now join us as we travel via excellent fiction through the Alps in another of our Five Great Reads set in…. feature.
Damnation by Peter Beck has to be first choice on the list, because it there is more than a nod to the escapades of James Bond.
Dead clients are bad for business, something that Tom Winter, head of security at a private Swiss bank, knows only too well. When a helicopter explosion kills a valuable client and a close colleague, Winter teams up with the mysterious Egyptian businesswoman Fatima Hakim to expose the truth behind their deaths.
Together they follow the money trail around the world and back into the Swiss mountains, the NSA watching their every move. As they start closing in on the truth, Winter and Fatima turn from being the hunters to the hunted, finding themselves in a deadly, high-stakes race against the clock.
A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler.
Andreas lives his whole life in the Austrian Alps, where he arrives as a young boy taken in by a farming family. He is a man of very few words and so, when he falls in love with Marie, he doesn’t ask for her hand in marriage, but instead has some of his friends light her name at dusk across the mountain. When Marie dies in an avalanche, pregnant with their first child, Andreas’ heart is broken. He leaves his valley just once more, to fight in WWII – where he is taken prisoner in the Caucasus – and returns to find that modernity has reached his remote haven…
Like John Williams’ Stoner or Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler is a tender book about finding dignity and beauty in solitude. An exquisite novel about a simple life, it has already demonstrated its power to move thousands of readers with a message of solace and truth. It looks at the moments, big and small, that make us what we are.
Rapids by Tim Parks. In the dramatic landscape of the Italian Alps a group of English canoeists arrive for an ‘introduction to white water.’ Camping, eating and paddling together, six adults and nine adolescents seem set to enjoy what their leader insists on calling a ‘community experience.’ Their hosts are Clive, a taciturn figure, and Michela, his fragile girlfriend. Joining the group late are Vince, a banker trying to make sense of the flotsam of his existence, and his teenage daughter whom he feels moving inexorably away from him.
The dangerous river manages to bring out the group’s qualities and failings in the most urgent fashion, provoking sudden conflicts and unexpected shifts of alliance. An ideal love affair breaks down and an apparently impossible one timidly buds. A banal disagreement turns violent. Meanwhile, the hottest summer on record is filling the glacier-fed rivers with a melt water so wild that it is surely unwise of the distracted instructors to launch their party into the last day’s descent of the upper Aurina…
Follow Me! by Louise Warman and one for the avid skiers amongst you.
Cally Johnson is fleeing an unrequited love affair by swapping her dead-end job and a dreary London winter for a dead-end job and a snowy winter in the French Alps.
Hopelessly scatterbrained and disorganised can she find the love of her life, a sense of purpose, those missing socks and the guests she left behind at a mountain restaurant? And will that carbon fibre brace hold her suspect knee together for an entire ski season?
Meet Cally, ski guide and chalet host, your Human Piste Map. Would you follow her?
Swiss Watching by Diccon Bewes is my final choice, a must read if you really want to understand the Swiss and Switzerland. This is a fascinating journey around Europe’s most individual and misunderstood country. From seeking Heidi and finding the best chocolate to reliving a bloody past and exploring an uncertain future, Swiss Watching proves that there is more to Switzerland than banks and skis, francs and cheese. This book dispels the myths and unravels the true meaning of “Swissness
Tina for the TripFiction team
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Other posts in our ‘Five great books set in…’ series:
And our ‘Ten great books set in…’ series includes: