ABOVE ALL THINGS
by Tanis Rideout
“Tell me the story of Everest,” Ruth says to George at the beginning of Rideout’s novel. “Tell me about this mountain that’s stealing you away from me.” By 1924, George had already tried to conquer Mount Everest twice. He had not planned to try again, as he had told Ruth. But his obsession gnawed at him, and when the opportunity arose, he took it – a decision Ruth learned about unexpectedly in a telegram.
First-time novelist Tanis Rideout draws on George and Ruth Mallory’s extraordinarily touching and articulate correspondence to offer a fresh and visceral account of Mallory’s doomed effort, as well as a powerful and affecting portrait of a remarkable marriage, in ABOVE ALL THINGS (Berkley Trade Paperback; February 4, 2014; $16.00), now available in trade paperback.
Writing from the alternating perspectives of George and Ruth, Rideout interweaves the progress of George and his fellow climbers up the mountain with Ruth’s efforts to keep up the home front. She puts on a brave face for their three young children, fends off aggressive reporters, and socializes with a small group of family members and close friends, including George’s best friend, Will Arnold-Foster. But she barely sleeps, haunted by worry and mystified by her husband’s decision to leave his family once again.
As his last trip to the Himalayas begins, George tells himself that there is no way to make things right between him and Ruth except to do what he’d been promising her for years: succeed and put Everest behind him once and for all. On the mountain, George and his colleagues advance from camp to camp, making ready for the final push to the top in the narrow window before monsoon season arrives and sets off the snowstorms that will foreclose any attempt on the summit. With equipment and clothing that seem absurdly inadequate by today’s standards, they must contend with some of the most severe conditions on the planet: brutal cold and wind, shifting glaciers, crumbling rock, sheer drops, and air so thin it can drive you mad before it kills you.
In ABOVE ALL THINGS, Tanis Rideout takes the historical record as her starting point, but illuminates the inner life of her characters and reveals its emotional truth as only a gifted novelist can do. Blending a gripping, true tale of exploration and adventure with the intimate, profoundly moving story of a passionate love affair strewn with apparently insurmountable obstacles, she has crafted a spellbinding page-turner in the tradition of both The Paris Wife and Into Thin Air.
Praise for ABOVE ALL THINGS:
“A fantastic read.”
—David Gann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z
“Part love story, part high-octane adventure, this historical novel…is a tough one to put down.”
“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….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.”
—Library Journal, starred review
Tanis Rideout is a poet and writer living and working in Toronto. In the fall of 2005 she released her first full-length book of poetry Delineation, exploring the lives and loves of comic book super-heroines, which was praised as a “tantalizing, harrowing read.” It has been featured on CBC Radio’s Bandwidth with Alan Neal and Definitely Not the Opera with Sook-Yin Lee.
In the spring of 2005 Rideout joined Sarah Harmer to read a commissioned poem on Harmer’s I Love the Escarpment Tour to draw attention to damage being done to the Niagara Escarpment by ongoing quarrying. Subsequently a performance of the poem appeared on the DVD of the tour – Escarpment Blues. In 2006 she was named the Poet Laureate of Lake Ontario by the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and toured with the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie to draw attention to environmental justice issues on the lake.
Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous quarterlies and magazines and received grants from local and national arts councils.
An excerpt from her new poems Arguments with the Lake received second prize in the CBC Literary Awards and was called Macewanesque in scope, [it] invokes in the reader a sense of timelessness and breathless wonder. The full collection will be released by Wolsak and Wynn, Spring 2013.
Her first novel, Above All Things will be released in Canada on June 19, 2012. It has already been praised widely – Joseph Boyden called it “simply breathtaking,” and Alison Pick said “Prepare to be dazzled.” Above All Things was named one of the five “Big Buzz” books at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2011 and will be published in the US and UK in early 2013.