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Above All Things Hardcover – February 12, 2013
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“Because it’s there.” George Mallory’s famous riposte to the question of why he attempts to scale Mount Everest satisfies everyone but his wife, Ruth. Theirs is a passionate romance, though one increasingly strained by Mallory’s insatiable need to crest a mountain that has vanquished him twice before, leaving his reputation in tatters after seven crew members died on his previous expedition. Given yet another chance to conquer the mountain, Mallory reneges on his promise to Ruth and mounts one final expedition. While Ruth soldiers on at their Oxford home, buoyed by family and friends but unsettled by relentless anxiety, Mallory and his team endure unimaginable hardships as they set out for the top of the world. With a gripping, “you are there” realism, Rideout’s powerful prose evokes the scalpel-like sting of arctic winds and the bone-shattering cold of frigid mountain nights. Impeccably researched, Rideout’s vividly authentic debut historical novel is a paean to the ability of love to conquer all but the highest mountains. --Carol Haggas
“Part love-story, part high-octane adventure, this historical novel about doomed Everest climber George Mallory is a tough one to put down.” —People
“Above All Things is a work as brilliant as sunlight bending off snow. Tanis Rideout’s debut . . . is skillfully and beautifully written. Charmed readers will be transported back through time and space, placing them right on the slope of treacherous and majestic Mount Everest and right inside the conflicted hearts of these memorable characters. . . . Especially compelling, this novel weaves together fact and fiction to reclaim George Mallory’s wife Ruth from obscurity, bringing her alive on the page in all her deeply affecting humanity. . . . Ideas of God, of glory, of perfectionism, of what endures, of faith and honor, duty and love, failure and success, passion and prudence, guilt and shame, heroes and fools—all powder this novel like multifaceted snowflakes—ideas that will fuel many worthy discussions among readers and critics alike. Similarly, readers and critics cannot but get excited about Ms. Rideout’s marvelous gifts for writing and storytelling. . . . All of us are also better in Ms. Rideout’s novel—and better for having read it. Above All Things is a startling and timeless work about our deepest desires, driving obsessions, and our insatiable need to be loved.” —New York Journal of Books
“[An] absorbing, book-club ready first novel. A-” —Entertainment Weekly
“[A]s heart-pounding as anything in Into Thin Air—and the tension is lamost unbearable, even if we know the outcome. . . . Above All Things, finally, rises to the historic, even mythological occasion. Rideout’s powerful prose about a tragic, brutal end will ahunt you.” —USAToday.com
“Rideout does a brilliant job.” —The New York Observer“ ‘Because it’s there.’ With just three words, George Mallory explained why explorers do what they do. Yet beyond these words, volumes have been left unsaid. With Above All Things, Tanis Rideout finally fills in this void, illuminating one of the great tragic adventure stories of the modern-day age. It’s a fantastic read.” —David Grann, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lost City of Z
“This magnificent novel, at once rugged and sensual, elaborates on George Mallory’s assault on Everest in 1924, the ones who went, the ones who waited. Deeply felt, richly imagined, immaculately styled, and utterly compelling, Above All Things takes us to the heights of human experience and endurance, both in physical fortitude and erotic longing. Rideout brings us to the summit and back down, shaken but somehow saved by grace.” —Robert Goolrick, author of A Reliable Wife and Heading Out to Wonderful
“Tanis Rideout’s Above All Things is truly mesmerizing, a powerful weaving of the tensions and heartaches of a marriage in conflict with an obsession. It is the story of British climber George Mallory’s third scaling of the walls of the world’s highest mountain, and it is brilliantly told. It will take you up the slopes of Mount Everest, a climb so vividly described, you will almost feel the biting wind, the intense cold, the great drama of an historic event. But this is more than an adventure tale. Above All Things takes the reader into the hearts of both Mallory and his wife as they struggle to understand each other and their own conflicted yearnings. A deeply satisfying blend of truth and imagination that stands out from the crowd.” —Kate Alcott, author of The Dressmaker
“A love story, a tale of adventure, and a study in obsession all at once, Above All Things is simply breathtaking. With Tanis Rideout’s debut, a major new voice in fiction arrives.” —Joseph Boyden, author of Through Black Spruce and Three Day Road
“Above All Things has it all: adventure, tragedy, mystery, and a deeply moving love story. It’s gorgeously written and beautifully paced. I could not put it down. Prepare to be dazzled.” —Alison Pick, author of Far to Go, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
"...George Mallory is the subject of this knockout first novel from a Canadian poet. The author has exhilaratingly imagined the British climber's third and final attempt to reach the mountain's summit ... creating an atmosphere as authentic as in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.... Book group alert! Rideout has written a superb addition to the fictional biography genre popularized by novels like Loving Frank and The Paris Wife. Buy it. Recommend it. Your patrons will thank you." —Library Journal, starred review
“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…. Rideout offers a gripping account of the expedition. The author’s accomplished depiction of the harsh and beautiful Himalayan heights … 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.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"With a gripping, 'you are there' realism, Rideout’s powerful prose evokes the scalpel-like sting of arctic winds and the bone-shattering cold of frigid mountain nights. Impeccably researched, Rideout’s vividly authentic debut historical novel is a paean to the ability of love to conquer all but the highest mountains." —Booklist
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Top Customer Reviews
From all accounts, George and Ruth Mallory had a great love affair. Ruth understood his need to climb the mountain, the first two times. The third time, she was not happy, he had promised never to climb again. Their goodbyes were filled with love, but not as much understanding. After all, Ruth was left at home for months at a time to deal with daily life and their children. She became a single mother, not on her own terms.
This novel is told from Ruth's perspective, all in one day. Filled with flashbacks and with the words of George ad his colleagues as they readied for and started their climb. Remember this is 1924, and they were true adventureers in the world. This was a very big deal! Well written and often told in rich detail, this is an exceptional novel in many ways. However,the historical facts were not held, parts of the climb at odds, and this was a distraction. All in all, the novel held my attention.
Recommended. prisrob 01-31-13
The book switches back and forth between Ruth's life at home in England with the children and to George's quest to climb Mount Everest on this third attempt in 1924. Ruth Mallory is a loving, understanding wife and mother who holds up at home but is resentful at her husband's mistress or his thirst to climb Mount Everest. By 1924, nobody has successfully climbed Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world by almost over 30,000 feet above sea level. It's both dangerous and alluring to George Mallory as with his teammates and other climbers.
George Mallory is a complicated figure. The author tries to get into his mind and does it successfully. By climbing Mount Everest, those like George Mallory experience the ultimate quest and test of the human body's endurance. Climbing Mount Everest isn't easy but perhaps one of the most challenging experiences for those who do so. This book recalls a simpler time between World Wars about a couple who manage to endure in different places thousands of miles apart.
Does George Mallory ever make it to Mount Everest? I won't spoil it for the reader. If you like reading about Mount Everest adventures, this one is for you. If you like romantic historical novels, you will enjoy it. I felt that the beginning was too slow.