Above All Things

This is a lovely book. Above All Things by Tanis Rideout has the gentle feel of by-gone days, yet deals with the harsh reality of bitter circumstances and unbelievable hardship. I am always in awe of someone who can write great historical fiction. They have to do their research well and combine fact with a plausable story to make their book believable. And Rideout has done this remarkably well. In 1924 George Mallory sets out for his third attempt at climbing to the summit of Mount Everest. His previous two attempts resulted in failure and this is his last attempt to conquer the mountain, for King and country, so he assures his wife Ruth. With his team at the ready he leaves Ruth and  3 young children in Cambridge to await his fate. Rideout is such a great writer that we feel the bitter cold, lack of oxygen, and relentless fatigue seeping into our bones just as it does those unfortunate souls attempting to scale the highest mountain on earth. Intertwined with this is the story of Ruth as she is left to tend to everyday life with children and society’s expectations such as they were in the 1920s. In this day and age, with all the instant messaging we take for granted, it’s hard to believe that  a simple letter between Ruth and George could take upwards of 4 weeks to wend it’s way to the recipient. Imagine having to wait that long. Ruth carries on, keeping up appearances, though not always with ease, and George soldiers onward and upward towards his goal all the while thinking of Ruth and his children, hoping against all odds that he accomplishes this almost impossible task. I knew very little about George Mallory before reading this book, and I’m glad Rideout has written about his time and place in history. This is a wonderful book, you won’t be disappointed if you choose to read it.

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