From the first page until the last page, I could not put Above All Things down. It is fascinating on so many levels, and not just regarding the fact of George Mallory’s legendary status as an explorer.
Above All Things is an intriguing read, a fascinating look at not only the man, but his wife, Ruth, and his family. The prose is filled with magnificent imagery and with descriptions that left this reader feeling emotionally involved.
The familial dynamics is portrayed with sensitivity, yet with stark reality. The prose is extremely descriptive, affording the reader a look not only into the historical value of the novel, but also the interactions displayed within the family unit and the other individuals who chose to seek the glory of reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, along with Mallory.
There are several questions that came to mind while reading this novel. How does one leave a wife and children behind while they go on to seek fame and accomplishment, with the possibility of never returning? How does a wife cope with her husband’s decision to do so, waiting for word of his safety, waiting for correspondence, for any sign of his trek up the mountain? Does love mean that one gives up the comforts of having a husband nearby in order for him to fulfill his dreams? And, what of the children whose father is absent, does the father’s goal to summit Mt. Everest mean that his goal becomes their goal? Many thoughts arose while I read this incredible story.
Rideout accomplishes so much within the pages with her magnificent prose and her understanding of human nature and the desire to accomplish what others have not. We are taken on the journey, not only with George Mallory, but his wife and children. Each foothold is told with breathtaking word-imagery, leaving this reader almost breathless reading the story.
The descriptions of the mental and physical suffering endured by George Mallory is brilliant, as well as how Rideout portrayed Ruth Mallory and her emotional and mental suffering, left behind, constantly wondering about the outcome, and left behind to tend to young children, trying to act as if nothing unusual is occurring.
Once you begin this masterfully written novel, you will find it difficult to put down. Tanis Rideout is brilliant in every aspect of writing, creating intrigue, fascination, excitement, inner strength of the characters, and in affording the reader an intense look into George and Ruth Mallory’s relationship and the obsessiveness to fulfill one’s life-long goal. It is a novel filled with dreams and the courage to succeed, and filled with love and loss. It is a story of poignancy and heartbreak, perseverance and inspiration.
I highly recommend Above All Things, by Tanis Rideout to everyone.