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Book Review: Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

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Above All Things by Tanis Rideout is a historical fiction account of George Mallory’s 1924 attempt to climb Mt. Everest in no small part to give the war weary people of England something to cheer about. Meanwhile, Mallory’s wife Ruth is at Cambridge, England restlessly awaiting his return from the dangerous expedition. It is still not known if Mallory’s attempt was successful or not.

The book is an excellent novel which moves at two speeds: slow–as it surrounds Ruth Mallory’s life–and fast, as it chronicles the experience of George Mallory. Ms. Rideout brilliantly juxtaposes Mr. Mallory’s celebrated climb with 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. 

The parts which I found the most fascinating were the climb on Mt. Everest. The author does not romanticize the climb, but I could feel the chills, the heaviness, and other ailments which come at being at such a high altitude.

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 going on in the  minds 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.

Above All Things 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 taking away from my enjoyment of the story.

  • 400 pages
  • Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399160582

Buy this book in paper or electronic (Kindle) format.

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