War & Piste: Diary of a Ski Season: BOOK REVIEW

War & Piste: REVIEW
By Alex Thomas

Review by Sam Baldwin
Review published January 2012

War and Piste ReviewEvery winter hundreds if not thousands of young adults head to the mountains in search of snow, sex and adventure at altitude, but relatively few books have documented a winter ski season.

With War & Piste, author Alex Thomas has stepped up to the mark and created a fictional diary of one woman’s experience of working a winter as a ski rep.

The book is well laid out and presented with a lovely mountain map illustration at the start and the design overall is nicely done.

An accurate account of seasonaire life

The main narrative follows the life of ‘Poppy’, a young Irish girl on her first ski season in an Austrian resort. Though a work of fiction, the author spent six winters working in ski resorts so it’s likely that many of the characters and events are closely based on her real life experiences.
The book is written in diary format in a slightly gossipy, almost ‘chick-lit’ style; think lots of “OMG!”, who’s shagging who, and endless nights out on the booze. Which to be fair, is a pretty accurate portrayal of the ski season experience. As it’s written from a female perspective, it will appeal most to female readers. That's not to say male readers won't enjoy it too, but the target market seems to be the twenty-something woman.

It certainly has all the ingredients of ski resort life: the tiny bedrooms in grotty staff accommodation, annoying clients, an international mix of characters, (crazy Swedes, moody Austrians, ‘ra-ra’ English skiers etc). Anyone who’s spent time working a ski season will recognise many of the situations Poppy finds herself in – from the joy of powder days to the nightmare of transfer day with a hangover from hell.

Room for improvement?

For a book set in ski resort, there could be a little more dedicated to the actual skiing or snowboarding. Brief accounts of days spent on the mountain dot the narrative, but this book is really about a young woman’s relationship with a man (her boss), and the twists and turns that relationship takes, before she finds true love.

I would also have liked to have seen more appreciation for the mountains and a little less appreciation for drinking. Accounts of how many Jager-bombs were consumed hold little interest for me. However, it’s fair to say that for many seasonaires, a winter where piss-ups outnumber piste days is the norm.

At almost 450 pages long, the book could have been slimmed down a bit. Due to the diary format, some of the passages can be skipped without losing track of the story. However, it is accurate, often amusing, and does communicate well the thoughts and feelings of a young woman thrown into an exciting new place, with new relationships and discoveries to make.

Recommended for...

If you’re looking for a realistic portrayal of life in a ski resort, War & Piste most certainly fits the bill. SnowSphere.com recommends it for those who have worked a ski season, are thinking about working a ski season, or those who are just curious as to what really goes on when a bunch of young people work the winter in a mountain town, with all those opportunities for snow, adventures under the covers, and plenty of piss-ups.

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