Now this is what Mountain Fiction is all about.
Beautifully written and imaginative. So well done that you could believe the events were all historical fact and not fiction. Rideout skillfully weaves between known history and fills in the gaps in between with important and engaging drama but which never deviates from the characters of Mallory and his climbing partners, nor from his wife Ruth.
The story jumps between the 1924 British Everest Expedition where George Mallory and his partners attempt to summit into unknown altitudes, and a single day of Ruth Mallory waiting to hear the fate of her husband. As we go in-depth to the daily struggle of Mallory and Irvine’s mysterious and doomed attempt, we agonize with Ruth over the minutiae of a single day…waiting.
This was in a time when word from India could take three weeks to reach England. On this day, the telegram with the final news – success or failure – will arrive for Ruth.
A lot of climbers distrust non-climbers to render mountaineering stories, but Rideout re-imagines so powerfully and beautifully, and with the power of an enormous amount of research, the final hours of the failed bid, that it seems fitting. There is no declaration of what happened, only the echoes of desire and regret. Perfect.
Never-the-less, the fact that the book barely registered in the mountain festivals is indication that the displeasure with fiction in a realm of solid achievements is still a work of acceptance.
This story is an amazing addition to the climbing canon and sure to be a classic – and a benchmark of what climbing fiction can and should be.