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Above All Things

“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. A captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction, Above All Things moves seamlessly back and forth between the epic story of Mallory’s legendary final expedition and a heartbreaking account of a day in the life of Ruth Mallory. Through George’s perspective, and that of the newest member of the climbing team, Sandy Irvine, we get an astonishing picture of the terrible risks taken by the men on the treacherous terrain of the Himalaya. But it is through Ruth’s eyes that a complex portrait of a marriage emerges, one forged on the eve of the First World War, shadowed by its losses, and haunted by the ever-present possibility that George might not come home.

Editorial Reviews

“This magnificent novel, at once rugged and sensual, elaborates on George Mallory’s assault on Everest in 1924, the ones who went, the ones who waited. Deeply felt, richly imagined, immaculately styled, and utterly compelling, Above All Things takes us to the heights of human experience and endurance, both in physical fortitude and erotic longing. Rideout brings us to the summit and back down, shaken but somehow saved by grace.”

Robert Goolrick, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife

“‘Because it’s there.’ With just three words, George Mallory explained why explorers do what they do. Yet beyond these words, volumes have been left unsaid. With Above All Things, Tanis Rideout finally fills in this void, illuminating one of the great tragic adventure stories of the modern-day age. It’s a fantastic read.” 

David Grann, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost City of Z

“Tanis Rideout’s Above All Things is truly mesmerizing, a powerful weaving of the tensions and heartaches of a marriage in conflict with an obsession. It is the story of British climber George Mallory’s third scaling of the walls of the world’s highest mountain, and it is brilliantly told. It will take you up the slopes of Mount Everest, a climb so vividly described, you will almost feel the biting wind, the intense cold, the great drama of a historic event. But this is more than an adventure tale. Above All Things takes the reader into the hearts of both Mallory and his wife as they struggle to understand each other and their own conflicted yearnings. A deeply satisfying blend of truth and imagination that stands out from the crowd.”

Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

Above All Things has it all: adventure, tragedy, mystery, and a deeply moving love story. It’s gorgeously written and beautifully paced. I could not put it down. Prepare to be dazzled.”

Alison Pick, author of Far to Go, long-listed for the Man Booker Prize

“Absorbing…Rideout has a real feel for mountaineering, and her depiction of the Everest climb pulses with visceral detail.”

Entertainment Weekly

“This vivid, assured, and confident debut novel scales great heights of obsession and desire, both on the face of Mount Everest and in the loving bond between doomed explorer George Mallory and his wife, Ruth…Rideout offers a gripping account of the expedition. The author’s accomplished depiction of the harsh and beautiful Himalayan heights…pushes the reader forward in a gripping adventure narrative, while Ruth’s own longings and fears offer a counterpoint of a more settled but no less intensely sensual interior landscape.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“With a gripping, ‘you are there’ realism, Rideout’s powerful prose evokes the scalpel-like sting of arctic winds and the bone-shattering cold of frigid mountain nights. Impeccably researched, Rideout’s vividly authentic debut historical novel is a paean to the ability of love to conquer all but the highest mountains.”

Booklist

“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…creating an atmosphere as authentic as in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air…Book group alert! 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

“[Rideout] does a terrific job describing both the extreme physical conditions and the dreamlike consciousness George and Sandy drift into as their memories of home intertwine with their moment-to-moment climb.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A love story, a tale of adventure, and a study in obsession all at once, Above All Things is simply breathtaking. With Tanis Rideout’s debut, a major new voice in fiction arrives.”

Joseph Boyden, author of Through Black Spruce and Three Day Road

Author Biography

Tanis Rideout’s work has appeared in numerous publications and has been shortlisted for several prizes, including the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award and the CBC Literary Awards. Born in Belgium, she grew up in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto. She is the author of Above All Things.

Reader Biography

Emily Gray grew up in a military family and started audiobook narration in 2001. She has been heard bringing to life the adventures of Becky Bloomwood in Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. Emily and her husband started the Classics Acting Company in Dallas where she has appeared in The Cherry Orchard.

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