Above All Things is an eclectic combination of romance, suspense, adventure and history. Its story line begins with the voice of Mrs. Ruth Mallory, wife of famous (and infamous) mountain climber George Mallory. The author’s meticulous research provides the reader with an authentic account of the experience of Mallory and his family as it is known by historians, and also offers a fictional account of his personal life and the consequences of his choices related to climbing.
This book engaged me from the very beginning. The anxiety and worry experienced by a woman in love, stressed while caring for young children, and left alone to wait with little word from her husband, for weeks and months on end, was an immediate draw. Before the era of faxes and electronic mail, one relied on slow, steady exchange of hand written letters that literally crossed on the backs of strangers from one side of the world to another. In between communication there was ample time to wonder and worry about the well being of loved ones and the company they chose to keep away from home.
The author does an excellent job of bringing the reader along with both husband George and his wife as they attempt to navigate a “normal” home life amidst his extraordinary adventures in mountain climbing. The language is descriptive, appealing and sensitive to both the draw of the mountain that takes George away from his wife, whom he very much loves, and also reflects the fear that she experiences on his behalf.
While the ending of the novel is unsurprising to those familiar with Sir George Mallory’s story, this reader felt a continued building of suspense as the conclusion drew closer. One wishes for a different ending, and the hope for what the author describes as a real and genuine romance is strong. It is also interesting to experience what can sometimes be described as an obsession; that is, the draw to such a dangerous and incredible past time in a time when climbers were almost always in death’s presence. This was a wonderful, engaging book that this reader will inevitably recommend to others interested in historical fiction, adventure and romance.
Ms. Sara Padilla is a freelance writer and maintains a personal blog on family, health and wellness. She resides in the Pacific Northwest.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Amy Einhorn Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.