“‘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
"[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
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
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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.