Books & Review | Sam Goodwin
Updated: Feb 18, 2013 06:14 AM EST

Tanis Rideout's 'Above All Things' Is a Story of What Might Have Happened in George Mallory's Last Climb

Tanis Rideout's 'Above All Things' Is a Story of What Might Have Happened in George Mallory's Last Climb (Photo : Tanis Rideout Official website)

Tanis Rideout's new novel, "Above All Things," explores the possibilities of what might have happened during George Mallory's last Mount Everest quest along with a heart-wrenching story about the relationship between Mallory and his wife Ruth.

Nobody knows whether mountaineers George Mallory and his partner Andrew "Sandy" Comyn Irvine were successful on their last mission, which was a quest to climb Mount Everest. Did the two make it or did they meet their end while still trying to reach the Mount's peak? Tanis Rideout's new novel "Above All Things" explores what might have happened. Along with the quest, the novel also narrates the heart-wrenching story of Mallory's relationship with his wife Ruth and how she waited at home day after day anticipating news from or about her husband.

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Rideout reveals her interest and fascination for Mount Everest first began when she was working in an outdoor equipment store in Kingston. A colleague of hers used to show her videos of expeditions to the peak and she soon got hooked on and started reading everything about the mountain. That's when she came across Mallory and immediately fell in love with him. The author reveals that the mountaineer was extremely good-looking, wrote horrible poetry, painted and was a charmer.

 

The author also reveals that the writing process of her debut novel began when she decided she needed to fall out of love with Mallory. For that, she needed to see him in from a different direction and hence she decided to focus on his wife Ruth rather than him for her novel. Also, Rideout thought that while most non-fiction works on the mountaineer described his wife as being good and supportive, there really should be something more to her for being able to support her husband for 10 long years. Through her research, Rideout found that the very things Ruth loved about her husband also hurt her very deeply.

Rideout shares that she's made up a story about a young Sherpa dying in the novel. This, she does because she wanted to create an opportunity where she could portray Mallory thinking about his own children.  The author sums up the book saying, whether or not Mallory and his partner did make it to the top of Mount Everest or not, mountaineers today don't refer to him as a failure. In fact, they are fascinated and still talk about what they wore, what they did and how they slept on their expedition.

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