We recently managed to read ‘Belle de Neige’ – the funny, shocking, moving and at times horrifying exploits of one real-life season worker in an unnamed ski resort (that sounds a lot like Courchevel).

belle de neige book

A book for season workers

It’s listed on Amazon as ‘women’s fiction’, but what they really need is a category for ‘ski season books’, as this will resonate (at a super high intensity) with anyone who’s lived in a ski resort.

First published in December of last year, it’s taken us a while to get round to reading it, but we can safely say this is a must for all season workers: past, present or future.

Those characters you know and love

Sometimes you have to remind yourself that this is fiction.  Anyone who’s ever worked a ski season will recognise characters like the ‘Irksome Blonde 19 Year Old Chalet Bitch’, resort manager ‘La Vache Qui Ski’ and the trust-funded ‘Man of Leisure’.

Here’s Belle in her inimitable, ‘direct’ style on 19 year old chalet girls:

Often manipulative, arrogant, professionally ignorant, impervious to reason, socially oblivious, unreceptive to advice, encouragement or cajoling and totally unaware of how ridiculous they look/sound to everyone else not in their social category (most other people on the mountain).

She nails it again with the requirements for maintenance men:

They need to be able to fix stuff, operate a screwdriver, be a drug dealer and ideally have a thick regional accent.

Belle also doesn’t hold back when looking at the origins of the first chalet girls…

Your average chalet girl was a well-spoken young lady, fresh out of finishing school, but too ugly to marry off quickly.  It was a sort of finishing school for fat-arsed no-hoper debutantes.

…before moving on to the fine young creatures employed today:

Youngsters for whom the word initiative has absolutely no meaning whatsoever and who think a hard day’s work includes a fag break and a tantrum every ten minutes.

belle de neige in les 2 alpes
It made us laugh, it made us cry (hopefully in the right places)

The plot is more than just surviving a ski season.  Belle is going through a personal journey provoked by a close tragedy. And while her adventures are often vomit-strewn, alcohol-fuelled drug-debauchery (and what season worker can’t relate to that?), it can also be beautifully moving:

The mountains were like crouching lizards with great, ridged backs, or breaking waves, white horses and spume crashing in terrible slow motion.

The book might have benefited from some tighter editing, but it’s one that any ex-season worker will recognise and enjoy (although aspiring season staff should note that not every chalet girl takes Ketamine before a day on the slopes!)

She does nail exactly why we do seasons though.  It’s all for this:

That feeling of the sweeping turn covering huge, epic expanses in only a few seconds. Soaring on clouds.  Freedom to reach places unreachable by others.

Congratulations Belle – you’ve reached those unreachable places.