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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 18, 2012
Story Description:

McClelland & Stewart Inc.|June 19, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-7710-7635-0

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.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! The alternating chapters between different days of George's legendary climb and only one day in Ruth's life was a brilliant concept on Ms. Rideout's part. The exhilaration, suspense, and gripping writing is amazing. The vivid descriptions of the bone-chilling cold, the cutting wind, and the glaring ice made you feel as if you were there climbing with the group.

I felt a special affinity for Ruth who waited at home in England to hear word from George, a man she loved very deeply. Ruth did not want George to go on this expedition but knew deep in her heart that it was something George just had to do. The call of Everest was just too much for him to resist.

Above All Things would make for an interesting discussion among book club members or just between two friends. There is so much to review in this phenomenal story. I'll be highly recommending it for sure.
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on July 24, 2012
If you love good writing that transports you to a different time and place, read this book. These pages will put you alongside Mallory and Irvine as the tallest mountain in the world pulls you into the death zone - and the author gives a much deeper and insightful answer than 'Because it is there'. Thank you Tanis Rideout, for a story of extreme human endurance, both emotional and physical, told with consummate style and skill.
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on July 9, 2012
Tanis Rideout's Above All Things is a gorgeous study in desire (and its many manifestations: wanting, needing, longing, moving). It asks us to consider what drives us towards (and away) from the things that matter. How it is we come to decide what it is that matters -- and what we are willing to put on the line for it.

Rideout has created intricate worlds that are engaging and vibrant in her fictional account of George Mallory's 1924 Everest expedition. She traces how, in the years following the Great War, individual and national desires collided, resulting in the famed expedition to the mountain's summit. Rideout offers us particular insight into the lives of George Mallory, his expedition companion Sandy Irvine, and his wife Ruth, who struggles to accept her dutiful place awaiting George in Cambridge when her life is thrown out of order by his wanderlust.In invoking the chaos of war and its aftershock, the relationships imposed by colonial economies and imaginaries, the desires underpinning these explorations, and the lives of those affected by them, this novel asks us to consider these things as human things, and raises questions as to what their means and ends are worth.

While epic in scope, Rideout manages to move skillfully from the sweeping to the intimate, finding poetry and humour in the everyday. She offers insight into circumstances that are both ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. She is skilled at exploring the spaces between; the slack and tension between humans, and between humans and objects (Everest first comes to mind, but note the role of letters in the novel). Her characters are complicated and embodied, with Rideout paying careful attention to the physical pleasures and pains that come with their territories.

And perhaps most importantly, Above All Things is immensely readable. It has a rhythm that carries it forward towards its gripping final scenes.I recommend this book highly, both for the individual reader, as well as for book groups looking for a text that is literary and accessible. A great summertime read!
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I have no idea what prompted me to read this book. I have never had an interesting in climbing nor in the history of Mount Everest. I don't even like to climb to the top of a step ladder, but by the time I had finished the first chapter, I didn't want to put Above all Things down. Some how, author Tanis Rideout has brought to life a story that is almost ninety years old. I wanted to race through this book so I could find out what happened and at the same time, I had to keep myself for searching about George Mallory on the Internet. That would have been cheating.

This is the story of the third attempt by the British in 1924 to scale Mount Everest. George Mallory was part of the team for each of those attempts. Each time he left at home his wife Ruth and their three children.

I was captivated by this fictionalized re-telling. As I was reading, I watched the snow outside my window and shivered knowing that Mallory and his team had endured much worse. I imagined them in their cotton and leather clothing and realized how inadequate their supplies must have been. Poor nutrition and dehydration must have plagued them through the entire adventure.

Several thoughts stuck with me through out the book. First, the nature of a man. What lengths a man would go to in achieving a goal. What price was George willing to pay to be able to stand at the summit of Everest.

Second, the role of the wife, who was expected to stay at home and support what ever it was that the husband chose to do with his life. Was Ruth given any say in what George did.

A third thing that bothered me was that at that time it was thought to be unsporting if the climbers used oxygen bottles. Who would think it unsporting. Was it the climbers themselves or was it those armchair adventurers sitting safely in their clubs in London whose most dangerous endeavour was crossing the street.

I loved this book. I found myself staying up late at night to finish just one more chapter and then another. I will even admit that I was moved to tears during the final chapters.
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on August 11, 2012
This is a brave book, particularly for someone with no (apparent) background as a climber or mountaineer. Tanis Rideout avoids the obvious pitfalls that await the non-climber, concentrating instead on states on mind and the tension between Mallory, obsessed equally with the mountain and his family and unable to reconcile either without dealing with the mountain, and his wife Ruth, barely able to understand the former and worried to distraction with the fate of the latter should he perish. If Above All Things fails to satisfy, then it fails equally in the two fields of internal combat, Mallory's on the one hand and Ruth's on the other. As to Ruth's, the quotidian details perhaps depend too much on us understanding the identities of Will (her future husband after Mallory's death), and to a lesser extend Geoffrey, better known (at least to all UK climbers of a certain generation) as Geoffrey Winthrop Young, one of the finest mountaineering poets ever and famous for having lost a leg in the war and gone on climbing. As to Mallory's, perhaps here Rideout's lack of climbing experience shows, because she just cannot quite communicate the attention to detail that suffuses life on a climb or a mountain. For Mallory on the mountain, the non-fiction, especially Wade Davis' recent and excellent book, Into the Silence, is definitive - who was where and why, and an element of struggle more the subject of imaginative fiction - such as Rideout bravely attempts - rather than often perilously dry non-fiction. You might even consider reading them side by side, because Into the Silence, too, is a book you won't easily forget.

Yet Rideout pulls out the stops where they are needed, Ruth's in Cambridge as her day progresses, and the hallucinatory worlds of Mallory and Irvine's might-have-been as the end approaches on the mountain. No discussion of the technical difficulties of the Second Step here - she follows Odell in thinking that Mallory at least made it up the mountain, even if neither were to make it down.

Read it if you love climbing and the mountains. Read it if you want to penetrate the state of mind of those who do. You will even forgive the odd historical stretch of fact: she transposes the death of Mallory's brother from the Second to the First World War, and the strange end of Maurice Wilson from the thirties to the twenties. Oddly, these do not detract. Rideout's prose is supple and subtle, and as a first novel this is stupendous.
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on July 12, 2012
Above All Things is a wonderful balance of high adventure and intricately observed detail. Tanis Rideout makes Mallory's tale fresh again with beautifully written descriptions of the expedition set against a backdrop of home. Bringing together richly imagined personal lives and historical research, she explores duty, longing, love and obsession in a moving, evocative and perfectly paced story.
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on November 24, 2013
Found this very tiresome; for the most part. Must have had an effective hook to keep me reading especially through the interminable and repetitious minutiae of "her" chapters. Total surprise after the boredom to have a such a magnificent finale. Seems like an editor could have helped by streamlining her endless,and to my mind, pointless observations about everyday occurrences.
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on August 23, 2012
Take two parts adventure, one part obsession, one part ache and longing of long-distance love, a smattering of duty, and interweave with fascinating historical context, and you’ve got “Above All Things” by Tanis Rideout. You’ve also got one hell of a book. Strongly recommended.
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on April 25, 2014
The premise for this story is fantastic but fell short in execution. The writing felt drawn out in all the wrong places with too much attention on the mountain when, if the premise were to work, the story of Mallory's wife needed more attention and development. Many know the story of Hillary and not the story of Mallory - so worth a read to introduce that story.
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on April 18, 2013
I was enjoying this book but unfortunately couldn't finish it because the Kindle version was skipping pages. Hope this gets ironed out so I can enjoy the rest of the book.
PS The people at Amazon were very helpful though and promised to get to the bottom of the problem and put out a new "edition"
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