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Novel set at the F1 in Monte Carlo, 1968

30th October 2017

Monte Carlo by Peter Terrin, novel set at the F1 in Monte Carlo,1968 and in fictional Alstead, England. (Translated from the Dutch by David Doherty).

Jack Preston taught himself rudimentary machine maintenance and repair as he was growing and now he finds himself looking after the fictional Sutton 44 racing car (if you Google Sutton 44, you will discover that it is, in fact, a fish hook).

Novel set at the F1 in Monte Carlo

He is at the circuit with the Prince and family of this little Municipality in their royal enclosure, anticipatory of the day’s car racing ahead. But there is a stunning woman – DeeDee (it was the fashion to have just one word names in those days: Twiggy, Veruschka…) who clearly has links to his Highness, making her way over and past where Jack is preparing the car, when a conflagration erupts. In the background is another woman taking photos…

Jack is seriously wounded, scarred for life, in the accident and spends many weeks in Nice hospital. As he re recovers he seeks solace from his wife but he also relives that fleeting eye connection with DeeDee as she headed towards the Prince, only seconds before the fire. This memory and obsessive recollection sustains him, whilst awaiting some acknowledgement from her for his being on the scene of her rescue. But neither she nor his racing company express their gratitude or awareness of the shocking event. His moment of glory, imagined or otherwise, turns literally to ashes, there is a deafening silence from all quarters.

The book moves forward a year and another shocking accident, mirroring events in Monaco in the 1980s, takes place. Jack observes and responds to the silence, ever hopeful that contact will somehow be made.

This is an unsettling read, with beautiful prose expertly translated by David Doherty. There is loving, even sensuous detail when the author describes the cars and mechanical parts. It is much more than a novel about cars and racing, although ultimately it wasn’t a novel that totally worked for me. Despite the wonderful prose, I found it just a little too ponderous. Location, from a TripFiction point of view is fairly lightweight.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

Peter Terrin is on Facebook (where he shares wonderful photos, by the way!). And you can buy a copy of Monte Carlo via the TripFiction website

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For another good F1 read, try Toby Vincent’s “Crash” set in Moscow.

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