Our latest book is Above All Things, by Tanis Rideout. Book Club hostess Jacqueline Steward, who blogs at Best and Beyond, starts us off on the discussion below. Read what she thought about the book and join in.
Taking part in the BritMums Book Club with Penguin is a great way to score a free copy of new books, read along with a group of fellow bloggers and discuss what you loved (or hated) about them in the comfort of your own home.
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What we thought of the book
“The English love rather to live well than live long” —Arnold Lunn (tribute to Sandy Irvine and George Mallory)
Reading Tanis Rideout’s novel about Ruth and George Mallory and the ill-fated third attempt on Mt Everest was like reading three stories in one. Domestic life laid bare and the agonising wait for her beloved, handsome husband by his intelligent wife, Ruth. The journey and struggle to conquer Everest by the ill-fated team AND the politics and pressure placed on the expedition by the UK public and government to succeed. I felt like I was reading an inspiration for The Hunger Games. They didn’t appear to have much choice in their collective fate.
Mallory was a man of a certain time and Rideout’s beautiful prose captures it perfectly. Handsome, witty, intelligent, empathetic, loving and selfish. He was clearly someone everyone would want to know. Above All Things captured my imagination and I have since been Googling George, Ruth, and his young climbing companion, Sandy Irvine. It made me want to know more about their lives, the time it was set and of course the expedition.
What makes someone a hero?
What makes a hero? A difficult question.
My children wanted to know why/how he could leave his children? I wanted to know why they wore such unsubstantial clothes/kit to climb what was already known as a really treacherous expedition. I loved knowing that Burberry supplied the climbing clothes. It was also a great family game discussing his contemporaries now and who attracted a similar amount of media attention: David’s Beckham or Walliams anyone?
Life is tricky but knowing that split second decisions could make the difference between survival and success or death made me look at the nature of their responsibilities, expedition and exploring in a whole new light. The book is beautifully written and researched, particularly the chapters concentrating on Everest. Rideout’s obsession with Mallory and this time was clear from start to finish. I often feel shortchanged with novels as the author grows distracted and loses interest with their subject/writing, not with Above All Things.
Tell us what you thought about the book
What did you think? Did you find the different narratives helpful? Was Ruth sympathetic? Did you find the pressure she faced unbearable?
I’ve since Googled the key team behind the expedition and was surprised by Mallory’s full life before the expedition. Although relatively young when he died, he managed to pack a lot in. Find @Tanisrideout and you will find some fabulous archive images on her Twitter feed marking the 90th anniversary of the expedition (week of 2/5/14).
Look forward to reading and commenting on your thoughts/reviews so please add your link and I will come find you.
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