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The Paris Wife meets Into Thin Air in this breathtaking debut novel of obsession and divided loyalties which brilliantly weaves together the harrowing story of George Mallory's ill fated 1924 attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest with that of a single day in the life of his wife as she waits at home in England for news of his return  A captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction Above All Things moves seamlessly back and forth between the epic story of Mallory's legendary final expedition and a heartbreaking account of a day in the life of Ruth Mallory Through George's perspective and that of the newest member of the climbing team Sandy Irvine we get an astonishing picture of the terrible risks taken by the men on the treacherous terrain of the Himalaya But it is through Ruth's eyes that a complex portrait of a marriage emerges one forged on the eve of the First World War shadowed by its losses and haunted by the ever present possibility that George might not come home Drawing on years of research this powerful and beautifully written novel is a timeless story of desire redemption and the lengths we are willing to go for honour glory and love

10 thoughts on “Above All Things

  1. says:

    You don't need to be a mountain climber to get hooked on the subject especially when it comes to Mount Everest Three years ago I read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air and was hooked Since then I have read seven books on Everest followed online coverage each season and watched a handful of films However Above All Things is the first dedicated piece of Everest fiction I have read Though I was intrigued by author Tanis Rideout's NPR interview plugging the book it left me suspicious Her qualifications historical knowledge and mountaineering experience seemed limitedNevertheless I snatched up my public library's copy and gave it a chance After all I find the legend of ill fated George Mallory as engrossing as any fan of Everest literature does The chance to experience his story as historical fiction and the story of his wife Ruth was irresistable From page one I was encouraged by Ms Rideout's narrative style The delivery is delightfully straightforward and focused The novel's major drawback initially at least is the choice to limit Ruth Mallory's plotline to a single day While it affords readers great insight into the plight of loved ones waiting for news it means much of the story is excruciatingly stationary Rideout compensates for this with increasing effectiveness as the novel progresses and the characters develop In particular she includes a pivotal supporting character named Will His turbulent bond with George revealed in flashback and the exquisite affection he exhibits for Ruth in the present provide tension and flow to scenes that would otherwise be nothing but relentless waiting After a slow start I read the latter two thirds of Above All Things in a single day This is comparable to my experience with other Everest books Even readers get summit fever As Rideout and her characters press into situations undocumented by history she keeps the novel on task by exploring post war national angst as well as the competing pulls of familial commitments and personal quests By her own admission Rideout takes some significant liberties with the facts but does so for the sake of effective storytelling Her depiction of the final summit bid is mesmerizing At any time this book is on the verge of plummeting into schmaltzy romance Yet through good writing empathetic characters and with the help of an irresistible legend Rideout offers up a novel well worth reading