"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.
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."
George and Ruth sat on the drawing room floor, laughing and tipsy, dinner growing cold on the table in the next room. Ruth was cross-legged opposite him, her gray skirt pulled tight across her knees. She picked up the single sheet of thick ivory paper from her lap and reread the invitation from the newly formed Mount Everest Committee again. "My husband, the world-famous explorer." Ruth held up her glass of wine and he reached out with his own, the crystal ringing in the lamplit room. She was fairly bursting with happiness.
"I like the sound of that," George said, and let himself imagine what it would be like to have people thinking about him, talking about him. The opportunities that success on Everest would bring. "I might be able to leave teaching, maybe even write full time...
Many authors never surpass the masterwork with which they started their careers. If Tanis Rideout writes no other novel, she has achieved mastery in this first long work and has given us a treasure. I personally hope she will continue to write so skillfully of the inner human struggle. Some would call this a historical novel, but it is more than that: it is an exploration of the conflict of the human heart, which all must face and within which we each must shape our destiny.
(Reviewed by Bob Sauerbrey).
Full Review (1207 words).
Tanis Rideout's Above All Things is part of an important tradition in human history and literature. The deaths of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine continue the fascination we have with glorious failures and heroic misadventures.
The Iliad's Hector
The Iliad, one of the first works of Western Literature, celebrates the death of Hector, a man of integrity and clearly superior to those who defeat him and his people. Hector shows a mercy and compassion lacking in the Greek leaders, Agamemnon and Menelaus, and even in the tortured hero who kills him, Achilles. In their last meeting in book 6 of The Iliad, Hector and his wife Andromache, both realizing in their deepest hearts that Hector will die in the coming battle, speak of the ...
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