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Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Above All Things (edition 2013)

by Tanis Rideout

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2244451,855 (3.85)54
Title:Above All Things
Authors:Tanis Rideout
Info:Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam (2013), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:2013, fiction, adventure, Everest, historical fiction

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Above All Things by Tanis Rideout



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"When I was small I imagined love as something safe, something without sharp edges, only the sweeping, enveloping curves of romance and happiness. But it isn't. Not now, anyway. There are edges and they cut."

"Above All Things" is the story of George and Ruth Mallory. He was a British explorer, long debated to have been the first (with Sandy Irvine) to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1924. She was his wife and the mother of his three children. Told from the points of view of multiple characters, the book mixes historical fact with fiction and speculation that comes together to create perfection.

In 1924, George Mallory is heading back to Everest for a third time. The last time, he promises Ruth, who is heartbroken by his decision to leave her and their children once again. But for as much as he loves Ruth and their three children, George loves the mountain. Well, maybe love isn't the right word. He is taken by her; obsessed with her and the prospect of reaching the summit - a height that no man had ever been to. After two failed attempts, George views this opportunity as his last hope -- his last chance.
Back at their home in Cambridge, the story Ruth tells unfolds over the course of one day in her life; one day in her existence without the man who she loves and craves and longs to be with. And who she feels abandoned by.

I was worried that the novel would would be overly technical when describing the the climb, but author Tanis Rideout does a really great job of painting the picture of the climb and the attempt to reach the summit in the language of someone who has never set foot on a mountain; and an even more outstanding job of portraying the humanity of each character.

Since the outcome of the 1924 attempt to summit Everest is historical fact, I don't bad about including the "spoiler" that Sandy Irvine and George Mallory disappeared on that climb. In fact, Mallory's body was just recently found by some climbers on Everest. (Sandy Irvine has never been found.) Regardless, I felt the loss and the heartbreak in Rideout's novel, and I cried at the end. The narrative in enveloping, the characters are tangible and accessible and the story is 100% unforgettable. Absolutely one of the very best books I've read all year.
I need to return the book to the library, but I'm reluctant to part with the novel and the story. And I'm eager to read more about the Mallory and Irvine expedition. The fact that Tanis Rideout's novel has pushed me toward seeking out nonfiction is truly saying something; it's not my favorite genre to read and I don't do it often. Regardless, you need to check out this book! I promise to return mine to the library so that other people can discover the story and the first novel from this author. ( )
  Jenna.Czaplewski | Jul 3, 2014 |
Okay, so I will admit right off the bat that Tanis Rideout's "Above All Things" isn't in my typical genre. I'll acknowledge that it was probably an uphill battle from the start in terms of my liking it. I ultimately decided to pick up the book when a friend recommended it, knowing of my obsession with mountaineering literature.

That was probably part of this book's undoing for me. I've read a ton of stories about Everest expeditions and plenty about Mallory and Irvine. Rideout's characterization of them doesn't match mine (& I'm sure she did plenty of research so I'm not saying my thoughts are more valid than hers.) George Mallory came across so thoroughly unlikeable in this book, I couldn't help but wonder why anyone would climb with him, let alone marry him.

I was also put off by the novel's opening scene, which was just so contrived... I nearly stopped reading right there.

Rideout certainly writes well and probably, I would have liked this novel more if it weren't about Everest. ( )
  amerynth | May 31, 2014 |
a thrilling story, of love and adventure. Wonderful. ( )
  bhowell | May 20, 2014 |
It is a novel based on the lives of George Mallory and his wife Ruth. It goes through the history of their relationship and marriage, but the main storyline takes place in 1924, when he makes his final attempt to climb Mount Everest. The story shifts back and forth between George on his trek and Ruth back home in England. It details his travel to Tibet and the effort to summit the mountain by him and the other Englishmen making the trek and their local guides and porters. Ruth story mostly takes place on one day in the summer of 1924, maybe the day he died but certainly close to that time. There is generous use of flashbacks to their courtship and early marriage, and other parts of George's life. The book also tells the story of Sandy Irvine, a young mountaineer traveling with George.
Rideout takes some liberties with the known truth, which she explains in the book's Author's Note, and uses her imagination to fill in some of the story which no one can know for sure.
I enjoyed the book. The story is one that I am interested in, and now I am motivated to read some non-fiction about Mallory and early Everest attempts. There is a lot of detail about mountain climbing on Everest, kind of technical but interesting to me. Maybe not for everyone though, but you can skim past those parts if needed. The books you a real feel of what it must have been like to be on the mountain in the 1920's with the then current state of the art climbing equipment. Together with Into This Air, it has eliminated and thought that I have had of climbing Everest or any other similar mountain. ( )
  BillPilgrim | Mar 7, 2014 |

I enjoyed this book about George Mallory's ill-fated final attempt to scale Everest, particularly the scenes towards the end describing his last desperate push towards the summit. The scenes written from the perspective of his long-suffering wife Ruth, left in Cambridge to anxiously await his return, were less successful for me at first. It's hard not to feel a bit bored when you were reading about an exciting mountaineering expedition and suddenly find yourself sitting on the floor of George's study with Ruth, listlessly sorting through papers and worrying about why the servants don't seem to like you. But I did feel that Ruth became a more sympathetic character as the book went on, and by the end I was fully invested in her story as well as George's.

I really appreciated that Rideout has an Author's Note in which she describes some of the liberties she took with history (which includes at least one pretty big alteration). I was disappointed, though, that when she says you can visit her website for "a further discussion of fact versus fiction", she doesn't mean that she goes into further detail about her approach to Mallory's story. Instead there's a short general essay on her website about the role of fact versus fiction in historical novels. Not really what I wanted! ( )
  mrlzbth | Feb 6, 2014 |
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Book description
Above All Things is a heart-wrenchingly romantic historical novel by Tanis Rideout, based on British mountaineer George Mallory's fatal attempt to climb Everest, and his wife Ruth, who is left at home, waiting for him to return to her. In the Himalayas two climbers strike out for the summit of the Earth's highest mountain - aiming to be the first to the top, and reclaim a little of Britain's lost glory. In Cambridge, a wife collects the milk, gets three children out of bed and waits for a letter, a telegram - for news of her husband. It is 1924 and after months of setbacks and failures, George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine are attempting to be the first to conquer Everest. Alone on the mountain they struggle against inhuman cold, violent winds, thin air - but climbing, putting one foot falteringly after another, they reach for the cloud-shrouded peak. At home Ruth Mallory goes about her day; visiting friends and comforting children she longs for news of George. She considers her marriage - the passion, the fights, the bitter absences, the loving reunions, all the snatched moments during the war and between expeditions. She hides her doubts and the uncertainty about the future with or - god forbid - without him. A powerful, moving story of a husband driven to extraordinary lengths by his ambition and a wife terrified she will lose him to a cruel and pitiless rival, Above All Things is a timeless story of one of the great tragedies - and love stories - of the last century.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0771076355, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:32 -0400)

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Blending historical facts with imaginative fiction, interweaves the story of George Mallory's ill-fated 1924 attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest and a single day in the life of his wife as she waits at home in England for news of his return.… (more)

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