15 February 2013

Imprint Friday: Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Amy Einhorn Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

I know I'm not alone in my fascination with Mount Everest. Long before Jon Krakauer brought the power of the mountain to life in his riveting Into Thin Air (1996), I followed news of the climbers each spring. Then in 1999 the world once again remembered the 1924 expedition to conquer earth's tallest peak when the body of George Mallory was found by a climbing team. The question remains, however: Was Mallory the first known person to have stood at the top of the world?

In Above All Things, Tanis Rideout takes us up the mountain with George Mallory, not only re-creating that tragic adventure but letting us see something of the private life of the man behind the myth through his own thoughts and through the eyes of his wife, Ruth, who remained in England with their children, waiting for news from across the globe.

Here's the publisher's summary:

Tell me the story of Everest,” she said, a fervent smile sweeping across her face, creasing the corners of her eyes. “Tell me about this mountain that’s stealing you away from me.” 

In 1924 George Mallory departs on his third expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Left behind in Cambridge, George’s young wife, Ruth, along with the rest of a war-ravaged England, anticipates news they hope will reclaim some of the empire’s faded glory. Through alternating narratives, what emerges is a beautifully rendered story of love torn apart by obsession and the need for redemption.
Tanis Rideout bases her story of Mallory's last trip to Everest on solid research, filling in the details to create a historical novel that is difficult to put down. As Rideout herself says (see the video embedded below), in essence the Mallorys' story is almost a love triangle. No matter how deep his passion for Ruth, George could not walk away from the pull of the mountain. And no matter how proud and supportive Ruth was, she still wished her husband home with her.

Although I was interested in the day we spend with Ruth, the time on the mountain that held my attention more. It's difficult to conceive of what the climbers went through. Remember, they had no modern equipment, no subzero special clothing, no accurate weather reports, no GPS, and no previously successful route to follow. Few people would have had the determination and bravery of Mallory and Irvine.

Rideout's descriptions of the men's last push to the top is particularly emotional. She perfectly captures the internal debate between wanting to stay alive and the feeling that success can be had with only a bit more effort. Two hours behind schedule and knowing that they would have to return to camp in the dark, Mallory and Irvine made decisions that were based on a multitude of factors.

We still don't know the truth of Mallory's success (his camera has not yet been found), but Rideout's version is one that I'd like to believe. She presents those last harrowing hours in vivid detail but mixes the drama with respect for men who died on that windswept peak. Tanis Rideout's account of the 1924 expedition to the top of Mount Everest will likely be with me for years to come.

In the following video, author Tanis Rideout discusses Above All Things and Mallory and Ruth's relationship.

Amy Einhorn Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Amy Einhorn's open letter posted here on January 25, 2010, or click the Amy Einhorn tab below my banner photo. To join the Amy Einhorn Books Reading Challenge, click the link.

Buy Above All Things at an Indie or at a bookstore near you. (Link leads to an affiliate program.)
Published by Putnam
/ Amy Einhorn Books, February 2013
ISBN-13: 9780399160585

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).


bermudaonion 2/15/13, 8:06 AM  

How did I miss this Amy Einhorn book? I'm adding it to my list!

Jenn's Bookshelves 2/15/13, 8:15 AM  

I started reading this while stuck in Rhode Island due to the blizzard...then realized I couldn't deal with more cold & snow. I definitely plan on picking it up again here shortly!

Beth Hoffman 2/15/13, 9:39 AM  

“Tell me about this mountain that’s stealing you away from me.”

I'm fascinated! This sounds like a gripping and wonderful and heartbreaking story.

Heather 2/15/13, 11:19 AM  

I wasn't aware of this book. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Zibilee 2/15/13, 12:17 PM  

I have never read a book about Everest, but this one captures my attention, because the story is told from two different angles in order to give a complete picture. I think I will like this one, so I will be looking for it!

Daryl 2/15/13, 12:23 PM  

sounds like a good read.. thanks!

Sandy Nawrot 2/15/13, 2:02 PM  

I'll echo Kathy, I am wondering how I missed this. If it is Amy Einhorn, then pretty much that guarantees that it is a good book. But one about Everest? *scurrying off to find*

Shannon (Giraffe Days) 2/15/13, 10:14 PM  

I read this last year and really enjoyed it - in fact it made my top ten! And I'm not particularly interested in mountain climbing or Everest, but the story - especially George's - was so vivid I could feel the cold etc., and their internal drive to finish it was so real I could practically taste it.

Glad to see another great Canadian book being picked up internationally!

Julie P. 2/16/13, 8:30 PM  

Just checked and I do have this one -- looks fantastic!

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