Adventure, romance, historical fiction… Above All Things by Tanis Rideout offers something for everyone in this tale of Englishman George Mallory and his final attempt to climb Mt. Everest in 1924.
Known as “the last great British explorer,” George Mallory dreamed of being the first man to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. Twice before he had tried and nearly lost his life, but this third time, he assured himself, would be different.
George’s wife, Ruth, on the other hand, thinks her husband is done with his mountain mistress. He specifically promised her after returning from his last trip that his obsession with Everest’s jagged curves and her deadly allure was over – but Ruth realizes it isn’t when she receives a telegram for George that reads, “Glad to have you on board again.”
At this point, the story takes off and Above All Things becomes a multidimensional read because of access to different character viewpoints. Throughout the novel you are allowed inside George’s head as he struggles against the Himalayan elements, his own fears of failure and with members of his own climbing team.
Sprinkled into George’s narrative are thoughts from Oxford student Sandy Irvine, who is the newest member of the dangerous expedition and involved in a love triangle of his own. He is just as determined to reach the peak of the mountain as George, and it is Sandy and George who make the final push to reach the summit of Mt. Everest and conquer the perilous mountain once and for all.
Lastly, the story is infused with Ruth’s point of view, which softly unfolds the passionate love story between her and George. As Ruth recalls her life with George thus far and simultaneously takes you through a day in her lonely, unfocused life without him, you begin to realize the depth of her depression and worry.
While Ruth’s words may at times ramble or even seem weak compared to other voices, they do present the more human and flawed aspects of the characters, which makes them more relatable. Ruth’s perspective also shows how much she and their children sacrifice in order to allow George to follow his grandiose dream.
Originally released in Canada last year, novels like Above All Things are not easy to write. To create an accurate historic picture for her readers and bring out the genuine emotions of everyone involved in the story, Rideout conducted extensive research and read actual journals, diaries, and love letters between George and Ruth before writing this book – her first.
This attention to detail along with Rideout’s confident, engaging writing style brings George, Ruth and his obsession with a mountain to life in a story that is harrowing, hopeful and heartbreaking.
As for whether George Mallory was successful in his 1924 attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Everest…you’ll have to read the book to learn the answer to that.
About the Author
Amy Morris is a librarian technical assistant at the Westport Branch. She earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, from Avila University. Besides reading and writing, Amy enjoys traveling, art, being creative, and spending time with her family. She also writes her own blog at livingkansascity.blogspot.com