Above All Things

Above All Things – a book review

disclosure:  we were sent this book in exchange for an honest review.

I love reading all sorts of books, I really love books that take you on a journey, an adventure.  Something that leaves you wanting to know more about a moment in time.  I’m a member of the BritMums Book Club and I’ve been really lucky to have read some great books with them over the last year.  One such book is called Above All Things by Tanis Rideout.

Above All Things

I love anything with a historical twist and knew I’d enjoy Above All Things from the moment I read the back cover. Above All Things is based on the story of George Mallory and his final ill-fated attempt to conquer Mount Everest in 1924.

The story is told through both George Mallory’s eyes as he makes his last climb, and through his wife, Ruth’s eyes as she waits at home for news.  I knew of Mallory and I also knew he never made it back, as I remember his body being found in 1999.  But I didn’t know any more than that.

I was enthralled by Mallory and his group of explorers and their lack of decent equipment, but sheer determination.  I’d recently read through a photographic history of Scott’s doomed trip to the Antarctic, seen the wholly inadequate clothing that he and his men had worn.  Reading Above All Things, I could just imagine the same thing.  Men risking their lives with primitive equipment.  Were they mad to even try, to believe that they could conquer the tallest mountain in the world?

Whilst each chapter from George’s perspective tells of a stage in the overall trip.  We see Ruth as she lives through the last day, hour by chapter before she hears of his death.  Can you imagine living in a world where the news takes weeks to filter through from one part of the world to another.  We take instant communication for granted these days.  I could empathise with Ruth, a woman, deeply in love, but always left behind, left with the children, left not knowing if her husband would return from his latest expedition. Competing against a mountain for her husband’s attention.

We are also introduced to Sandy Irvine, the youngest member of the 1924 Everest team. The man who partnered Mallory on the final push, the man whose body has never been found.  I wonder if it ever will.  All these years later and we still don’t know if they actually made it to the summit or not.

I found Above All Things captivating, I couldn’t wait to read each chapter, even knowing where the book would end. The author has made changes to the story, Mallory’s brother has already died in WW1 in the story, in fact, he died in WW2.  Things I’d rather have remained factually correct.  It’s a love story, sad and poignant, a story of a bygone age.

But that said, I want to know more about the real story behind this book.  It’s left me wondering, wanting to find out about Mallory’s earlier expeditions.  I’ve really enjoyed reading this book and was sad to reach the end for a number of reasons!



6 thoughts on “Above All Things – a book review

  1. I read it too and I agree with you on the factual stuff. I read the author’s explanation of why she changed it, but didn’t agree with her that it was necessary.
    I found Mallory’s story interesting and I was keen to find out more about him, even though like you I knew the outcome. I’m afraid Ruth’s story was rather dull for me. I got that it was very difficult for her, but I think that could have come across in just one chapter.

  2. I agree with you too-I didn’t like the changes made to the factual details and didn’t understand why it was necessary. I’m really glad I read it though, it was one of those that I wouldn’t have bought myself but am really glad I had the chance to read. I would definitely recommend it to others as well.

  3. Ah, I felt exactly the same about the changes of the detail about Mallory’s brother. It is fascinating how much they considered possible with such basic equipment.
    We know so much because they exchanged letters, how different it much be now. Phone calls and emails are less personal and don’t last as a record.

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