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Tanis Rideout

Författare till Above All Things

4 verk 363 medlemmar 51 recensioner

Om författaren

Inkluderar namnet: Rideout Tanis

Verk av Tanis Rideout

Above All Things (2013) 348 exemplar
The Sea Between Two Shores (2022) 9 exemplar
Arguments with the Lake (2013) 5 exemplar
Rogue Elements 1 exemplar


Allmänna fakta

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
Priser och utmärkelser
Order of Ontario (2013)
Kort biografi
Tanis Rideout was born in Belgium and grew up in Bermuda and Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her writing has appeared in a range of quarterlies and magazines including A Room of One's Own, Black Heart Magazine, grey borders, Spire, Pontiac Quarterly, Fireweed, echolocation, Witual and Chart. It has been short-listed for a number of prizes. She is also a musician who has performed on CBC Radio, BookTelevision, ZeD and Citytv. In 2006 she was named the Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario by the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and joined Gord Downie (of Canadian band The Tragically Hip) on a tour to promote environmental justice on the lake.

Above All Things, her first novel, was published in Canada in 2012 and in the USA and UK in 2013.



I loved Tanis Rideout’s previous novel, Above All Things, which I read in 2012. It made a real impression on me because I still remember it a decade later. I was anxious to read her sophomore novel, and I was not disappointed.

In the 1830s, William and Josephine Stewart left Nova Scotia and travelled to the island of Iparei in what is now known as Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Their intention was to convert the Indigenous Peoples to Christianity, but their arrival brought disease, caused friction, and led to violence. In 2013, Michelle Stewart, a descendant of these missionaries, lives in Toronto. Her family has been devastated by the death, the previous year, of the middle child Dylan. Michelle is invited to attend a reconciliation ceremony on the island for their ancestors. She accepts the invitation and brings her husband Scott, her mother Joyce, and her children, Zach and Astrid, with her. On the island, Michelle and her family are hosted by Rebecca and David Tabé and their children, Jacob and Anaei. The Tabé family is also in mourning because of the death of the youngest child Ouben after a cyclone six months earlier. In their time together, both families learn that they are connected by losses in the present and by the actions of ancestors in the past. David says, “’There are things that must be put to rest if we want to move forward,’” and his comment applies to both the present and the past, and to individuals and the community.

The perspectives of various characters are given: Michelle, Scott, Zach, Rebecca, David, and Jacob. This approach to point of view allows the reader to learn everyone’s thoughts and feelings which are often not expressed to others. William and Josephine are not given a voice, except through some fragmentary pages from Josephine’s diary. Instead, through interspersed sections, we are given the perspective of Faina, a girl living at the time of William and Josephine’s arrival. She sheds light on the reactions of the islanders to the missionaries.

Grief is a major theme. Though the circumstances are different, the death of a child is a loss experienced by both families. Though the sorrow of both mothers is described in heartbreaking terms, Michelle has much more difficulty moving on, though Ouben’s death was much more recent. Rebecca has rituals, such as wearing a fasting cord, and she goes to a cave sacred to women, a place that connects her to her ancestors: “There is comfort in this connection, less an erasure of her own suffering, her own fear and hope, than an embrace.”

Michelle, on the other hand, carries her grief in a “fragile, angry way.” She lashes out and so finds herself isolated from those closest to her. Rebecca notices that the members of Michelle’s family “are careful and distant with one another – a flicker of resentment, of frustration, sparks among them.” Michelle is so focused on her own grief, that she seems not to realize that others too have experienced loss. Jacob tells Zach, “’It wasn’t just your ancestors that were killed here. So many of our people got sick and died after the missionaries came, the traders. We need to remember them too. There are many sides to the story.’”

In many ways, Michelle illustrates the attitudes of the whites who came to the island. When Rebecca takes her to the special cave, Michelle “simply sees a cave, something empty and dark, that is only meaningful because of how her own people might have marked it. Initially, she doesn’t seem to understand that it is not just the islanders who have to “’honour [their] obligations. ‘’’ Just as Josephine seemed to say sorry often, Michelle does too. Rebecca comments, “The woman is always apologizing . . . The words come easy to her, but they’re hollow.”

One of the messages of the book is that reconciliation is not just apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Zach thinks of his mother’s “vague sorrys, and how useless a word it is on its own.” The point is that “’forgiveness is only part of the work. We must repair the road that was broken. Then we can begin to move forward, together.’” Michelle does admit to realizing something: “’I always thought what happened here was ancient history, but I know now that’s not true. Their ghosts are all around us.’” And she does offer something, “’I know it doesn’t change anything . . . but it’s something – a beginning.’” All of this reminded me so much of the situation of Canada’s First Nations peoples and the need for proper reconciliation.

I appreciated the references to climate change and its impact on the islanders. David explains that “’the storms that come now are so much worse, so much stronger than they used to be.’” Rebecca tells Michelle, “’We are not the ones causing these changes. And yet these storms grow worse every year, causing more and more damage, because you refuse to see what you are doing to the rest of the world. Our islands are going to be swallowed by the sea.’” And Jacob talks to Zach about the garbage that washes up on their beach: “’All this crap gets washed up from other places.’”

There is so much in this book to inspire thought. It certainly left me thinking more about both the actions of Canadians in the past and our behaviour in the present. This novel with its thematic depth is one I will be highly recommending to others.

Note: I received a digital galley from the publisher via NetGalley.

Anyone who has not read Above All Things is in for a treat. Here’s my review:
… (mer)
Schatje | Sep 22, 2022 |
It is a stunning achievement that Tanis Rideout should write such a polished, captivating, gorgeous novel, made even more remarkable by the fact this is her first published novel. From the subtle opening hook to the shattering last paragraph, Above All Things sated my appetite for impeccably crafted fiction.

Above All Things is a rich historical novel which recounts George Mallory's epic assent of Mount Everest, an alpine feat which still begs controversy and speculation. That Rideout should choose this event to spin into fiction required intimate knowledge of the period, the culture, and the particulars of mountain climbing. What is even more remarkable than her stellar research is the fact she chose to tell this story from three characters' perspectives (George Mallory, Ruth Mallory -- his wife-- and Andrew 'Sandy' Irvine who was the youngest member of the alpine expedition.)

George and Sandy's narratives are told on the mountain and often slide into remembrance. Ruth's narrative, the main narrative, is told in the present, over the course of one day, that terrible day she received news her husband was presumed dead on Everest. The counterpoint between what has in fact occurred in the past, and what Ruth is waiting to learn in the present, creates subtle tension and an implacable sense of dire inevitability, especially for anyone who knows Mallory's tragic story. And Rideout does this with such utter ease there is no sense of dislocation or loss of the story arc.

Her characterization of these legendary figures is real and immediate, very believable, so that you rage against the fates as you're swept along through her gorgeous and precise prose. That last paragraph, in particular, left me utterly shattered. It is written with such a stark and beautiful metaphor. And yes, you're going to have to go and read it yourself in order to experience the genius of this novel.

Above All Things is absolutely a must-read.
… (mer)
fiverivers | 48 andra recensioner | Oct 22, 2019 |
"Is this what it was all for? All the sacrifice?...They all paid the price for you... What was it all for, again?"
By sally tarbox on 5 July 2017

A very moving portrayal of George Mallory's ill-fated 1924 attempt to climb Everest. In alternate chapters we follow Mallory and his team - taking his leave from his family, the journey by ship to India and the gradual ascent, the building of camps, the sherpas, the perishing cold, lack of oxygen and incipient hypothermia - and Mallory's wife Ruth, at home in Cambridge with her children and friends, as she muses over their relationship, waits for the next letter and must deal with the wider world, all eager for the latest on this adventure...

"He heard his brain cells dying from the lack of oxygen. From the cold. Each of them ended with an audible pop, his mind bubbling like champagne. His lungs filled with fluid."

The author does an excellent job at maintaining a narrative that's all about snow, ice and suffering. The story builds to a crescendo as the obsessed George and his keen young colleague, Sandy Irvine, make a last, reckless attempt on the summit...
… (mer)
starbox | 48 andra recensioner | Jul 5, 2017 |
I enjoyed this historical novel about the first efforts to climb Mt. Everest. Describing especially the technical aspects of the venture in that time, Ms. Rideout did an exceptional job. In bringing out the character of the participants, I also thought she did well, though I did not like many of them, as I suspect I would not have liked those egos in real life. Best was her sense of place.
countrylife | 48 andra recensioner | Mar 8, 2017 |



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