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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
George and Ruth Mallory are married with children. But their love, which blossomed just before World War I, faces a monumental challenge. George, a handsome and gifted mountaineer obsessed with his quest to climb the summit of Mount Everest leaves Ruth with their children back in their picturesque home in England. Award-winning Toronto poet and writer Tanis Rideout crafts a cinematic love story-slash-adventure novel, blending the fictional existentialism of Ruth’s interminable waiting and devotion with factual tales of George’s survival on the killer Himalayan mountain. The book comes with an exclusive playlist curated by Canadian folk-jazz singer Jill Barber and a foreword by Rideout explaining the significance of the music selection.
This vivid, assured, and confident debut novel scales great heights of obsession and desire, both on the face of Mount Everest and in the loving bond between doomed explorer George Mallory and his wife, Ruth. Against the backdrop of Mallory s disastrous third expedition to attempt the summit in 1924, the explorer s tenacity and motives get thoughtful treatment, as he muses that if there was nothing worth dying for, neither could there be anything worth living for, while Ruth, waiting for news and caring for their three children, is torn between understanding and resentment. For Ruth, this deep need to explore the world is what made it round rather than flat, her desire to leave home... as strongly our desire to return. Her catalogue of George s comings and goings is a source of pain and hope and becomes all the more poignant as Rideout offers a gripping account of the expedition. The author s accomplished depiction of the harsh and beautiful Himalayan heights, the physical drain of the climb, the bitter, brutal cold and thin, grudging air pushes the reader forward in a gripping adventure narrative, while Ruth s own longings and fears offer a counterpoint of a more settled but no less intensely sensual interior landscape. The inevitable, terrible end remains in sight for the reader throughout, as compelling as the mountain peak that Mallory pursued at all costs. But Ruth s reactions, from her own sense of foreboding to her surprising fortitude in the face of deep loss, reassuringly ground the novel with the sense, as another doomed climber mused, of how time keeps passing when we re away.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An adventure and a love story
Beautifully written, alternating from the grueling attempt to be the first to reach the summit of Everest with the limited equipment and resources of the 1920s but with burning compulsion and desire to the waiting wife and family. Knowing the outcome makes it all the more heartbreaking. A compelling read which still leaves the possibility of a successful summit attempt, yet a tragic failure to return.