Starting off at a leisurely pace, it slowly weaves an extraordinary tale of adventure and one of love, all wrapped in a subtle sense of wit. Banters, which one cannot miss between Thackeray Turner and George Leigh Mallory or even in other conversations that Mallory has with his wife and various people.
George Leigh Mallory is the ‘lead man’, perhaps in this book, followed closely by his wife, Ruth and his many friends, who are willing to risk lives to climb the Everest.
The matchless self expression presented through dialogue and the letters which Mallory and Ruth exchange with each other is truly beyond comparison. Letters, unimaginable nowadays, in which one can see the love and the respect written with such humility that can only be imagined. You could truly wish you could write them like that or not write them at all!
It slips into the real adventure describing the humorous, for lack of a better word, George Finch and his adventures. Along with sherpas, and the mules, our journey up the Chomolungma, begins then. As they skirt along the mountain, eating something I have personally never heard of, but my mouth waters every time it is mentioned now, is the Kendal Mint Cake.
You are almost as disappointed and hurt as Mallory at the prospect of not reaching the summit and a sigh of relief cannot but help escape your lips when he does, the second time round. It is almost as if you had sat with Mallory’s children, waiting and anticipating for their daddy to climb the mountain.
This book needs at least two readings, of this I am sure. If you are the kind who reads the end before you finish the book, then I urge you to continue reading it. This book is one, which would go beyond all your anticipation and imagination. Knowing the end and still wanting to read it, is a gift, Archer can create for you. Though the mystery was never solved, it does in Archer’s book and in your mind, that George Leigh Mallory did indeed conquer the summit.
Much as I have enjoyed Archer’s short stories, to his novels and even his prison diaries, this book is his best. The ease with which he moves from year to year is indeed, amazing. So, to Jeffrey Archer and his book, which is inspired by a true story, I have only this to say, ‘Hear, Hear’.