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Above All Things

Above All Things

3.7 4
by Tanis Rideout
     
 

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A New York Times Editor's Choice

1924. George Mallory is arguably the last great British explorer, having twice tried—and failed—to conquer Mount Everest. The mountain has haunted him, but his attempts have captivated the hearts of a nation desperate to restore its former glory after World War I. Yet George has sworn to his wife, Ruth, that he

Overview

A New York Times Editor's Choice

1924. George Mallory is arguably the last great British explorer, having twice tried—and failed—to conquer Mount Everest. The mountain has haunted him, but his attempts have captivated the hearts of a nation desperate to restore its former glory after World War I. Yet George has sworn to his wife, Ruth, that he will not mount a third attempt. He will remain with her and their three children instead of again challenging the unreachable peak.

Then, one afternoon, Ruth reads a telegram addressed to George: “Glad to have you aboard again.” And with this one sentence, the lives of the Mallorys, and the face of the nation, are irrevocably changed.

A beautifully rendered story about the need for redemption and the quest for glory, Above All Things is a captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction. It is a heartbreaking tale of obsession, sacrifice, and what we do for love and honor.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“‘Because it’s there.’ With just three words, George Mallory explained why they 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.”—David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z

“A superb addition to the fictional biography genre.”—Library Journal

“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

“An elegant and well-researched novel.”—The New York Observer

“Part love story, part high-octane adventure, this historical novel about doomed Everest climber George Mallory is a tough one to put down.”—People

“Rideout’s powerful prose about a tragic, brutal end will haunt you.”—USA Today

"Gripping."—Parade

"[Rideout's] depiction of the Everest climb pulses with visceral detail."—Entertainment Weekly

“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."—Publishers Weekly

Above All Things is part thrilling adventure, part moving love story and, in its entirety, beautifully written.”—Examiner.com

“Truly mesmerizing, a powerful weaving of the tensions and heartaches of a marriage in conflict with an obsession…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

“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

Above All Things has it all: adventure, tragedy, mystery, and a deeply moving love story. It’s gorgeously written and beautifully packed. I could not put it down. Prepare to be dazzled.”—Allison Pick, author of Far to Go, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize

“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

 

Publishers Weekly
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.” Agent: Ron Eckel, Cooke Intl. (Canada). (Feb.)
People Magazine
Part love story, part high-octane adventure, this historical novel about doomed Everest climber George Mallory is a tough one to put down.
Library Journal
She’s a seductress and a tease, begging to be conquered. She is Mount Everest and the man in her thrall, 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 in 1924 through extensive research and attention to detail, creating an atmosphere as authentic as in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Access to years of letters exchanged between Mallory and his wife, Ruth, provide impetus for the equally compelling and only too familiar love story of a strong woman drawn to a charismatic adventurer torn between home and family and the lure of the next challenge. Why do they do it? National pride? Individual glory? Or is it some more nebulous combination of ego, guilt, and rebellion, as the author speculates? VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert 8/9/12; see also Neal Wyatt’s “Tanis Rideout’s “Above All Things” Read- and Watch-Alikes | Readers’ Advisory Crossroads] —Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Myers, FL

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
George Mallory is famous for answering "Because it's there" when asked why he kept trying to scale Everest, but Canadian Rideout's debut novel about Mallory's disastrous last climbing attempt is the story of a love triangle: a man, a woman and a mountain. After two failures, George has promised his wife, Ruth, that he is done with Everest, but in 1924, he leaves Ruth with their three small children in Cambridge, where he is a professor and part of the Strachey/Bloomsbury world, to join a third expedition to the mountain. He is 37-years-old, with movie-star looks and charm. Ruth supported his earlier attempts, but now she is jealous of his time away climbing. She is right to be jealous since the real love they feel for each other is no match for his hunger for adventure or for Everest, which is always referred to in feminine terms. Although a large portion of the novel takes place in Cambridge, where Ruth waits for letters from George while caring for her children, her domestic dramas--insecurity about her abilities as a mother, mild attraction to family friend Will, hostility toward Mr. Hinks, chairman of the Mount Everest Committee, who sponsored the expedition--cannot compete with the drama on Everest itself. George feels the need to vindicate himself on this trip after an avalanche disaster that killed seven Tibetans during the last attempt. Five members of the team have attempted Everest together before. The new member, Sandy Irvine, is much younger, still a university student and eager to prove himself, especially to George. Petty tensions arise among the men bound so closely in isolation, but there is indescribable intimacy as well as they face life-and-death challenges on a daily basis. A plodding quality slips in, the sense that Rideout is following the historical dots, but she does a terrific job describing both the extreme physical conditions and the dreamlike consciousness George and Sandy drift into as their memories of home intertwine with their moment-to-moment climb.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425268148
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/04/2014
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
405,163
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“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

Meet the Author

Tanis Rideout’s work has appeared in numerous publications and has been short-listed for several prizes, including a CBC Literary Award. Born in Belgium, she grew up in Bermuda and in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto, where she received her MFA from the University of Guelph-Humber. Above All Things is her first novel.

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Above All Things 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
Above All Things by Tanis Ride­out is a his­tor­i­cal fic­tion account of George Mallory’s 1924 attempt to climb Mt. Ever­est. It is still not known if Mallory’s attempt was suc­cess­ful or not. In 1924 moun­taineer George Mal­lory and his team tried to con­quer Mt. Ever­est, in no small part to give the war weary peo­ple of Eng­land some­thing to cheer about. Mallory’s wife, Ruth, is at Cam­bridge, Eng­land rest­lessly await­ing his return from the dan­ger­ous expedition. Above All Things by Tanis Ride­out is an excel­lent novel which moves at two speeds, slow (Ruth Mal­lory) and fast (George Mal­lory). Ms. Ride­out suc­ceeded in cre­at­ing an engag­ing book filled with excel­lent descrip­tions and believ­able characters. The parts which I found the most fas­ci­nat­ing were the climb on Mt. Ever­est. The author does not roman­ti­cized the climb, I could feel the chills, the heav­i­ness and other ail­ments which come at being at such a high altitude. Ms. Ride­out bril­liantly jux­ta­poses between Mr. Mallory’s cel­e­brated climb and only a day in the life of Mrs. Mal­lory. You could not help but feel the help­less­ness of the cou­ple as they missed, craved and thought about each other but were still sup­port­ive from afar. To the acute reader many intri­cate details are pro­vided with­out bring­ing the story to a grind­ing halt while pro­vid­ing beau­ti­ful descrip­tions of the Ever­est expe­di­tion while going into the mind of the climbers. The story is con­trasted with Mr. Mallory’s obses­sion with the moun­tain and his fam­ily, while being unable to merge them both. This is an inter­est­ing book to dis­cuss, the story is mul­ti­lay­ered, the nar­ra­tive is poetic and the action is excit­ing. I don’t know much about moun­tain climb­ing or Mr. Mallory’s his­tory, but I couldn’t find any glar­ing mis­takes which took away from my enjoy­ment of the story.
Lipchees More than 1 year ago
One of the best historical fictions I've read in a while. I am a fan of all things "Everest" and have always been intrigued by the adventurous spirits who dare climb this mountain. I really enjoyed how the author filled in the gaps with her own imagination and prose. I became emotionally attached to both protagonists (moreso Ruth) and felt myself willing for a different outcome. Each chapter left me emotionally charged.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that climbing Mount Everest has never been something that I wanted to do or had an interest in.   Starting this book I had no background or information on mountain climbing.  Within the first couple chapters I was hooked.  I could not put it down. Ruth was an interesting to me as George was.   Seeing how Ruth dealt with being left behind, yet again, and raising her three young children kept me entertained.  George’s adventures on the mountains kept me on the edge of my seat.  I had to know if he would get to the next camp, would he make it through the night fighting off frostbite, and most importantly would he make it to the summit.   Above All Things was a slow read.  I did find myself having to go back and re-read a page or paragraph and having to page back to see exactly whose memory I was reading.   I didn’t feel like the words were always smoothly written, but yet I could not put the book down.  By the time George was making the final push to make it to the summit, I loved this book and knew I would definitely share and recommend this book.   While there is romance, there is so much more to this book.  I truly feel that men and women alike will truly enjoy reading this story. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago