The talented and generous team at Amy Einhorn Books has provided a copy of ABOVE ALL THINGS for one lucky winner. As usual, simply leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered.
UPDATE: the winner for this giveaway is Carol. She has been notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered! And don’t forget to visit again soon.
My first novel, Above All Things, is based on the 1924 British expedition to Mt. Everest an historical event and so is filled with true things. Most of them are not about me, but life has a way of creeping into my writing — in big ways and small ways. The way someone looks, a certain nervous tic, the details of an event or room. In order to make George and Ruth’s relationship spring to life I borrowed from my own.
In the novel, George and Ruth recall their first meeting quite differently. Ruth believes it is when her father invites George to stay with their family in Italy and remembers in detail how George first looked, what he said. George, though, recalls meeting her earlier at a New Years Eve Party. “We’ve met before, ” George insists, citing the dinner party, which Ruth remembers attending but she is unable to recall George’s presence at all.
My husband and I agree on our first meeting (though perhaps we’d been in the same room together before) — a reading at a local book store, an introduction by mutual friends — but like George and Ruth, we disagree on what it was that I was wearing. “You wore a red dress, ” George says — echoing my husband’s insistence. And I agree with Ruth: “But I hadn’t. ”
I don’t recall owning any red dress — though years later I bought one to wear on our anniversary. Both my husband and I are sure we are correct. It has become part of our relationship’s history, a running joke, one that we both believe the other is the punch line of.
I gave this story to George and Ruth for a couple of reasons — to lend their meeting, their first getting to know each other an aura of authenticity — we attach a great deal of importance to how we meet people, particularly lovers. But I also gave them this story to highlight just how much it is possible for us to misremember, mistake and mis-tell of our own lives. One of us, my husband or me, is correct, that much is true. One of us isn’t. It changes nothing about our relationship, but makes me wonder what else might be misremembered or misconstrued. This innocent discrepancy seems hugely important in telling a story, like George and Ruth’s, that is very much about how we narrate and tell our own stories, to ourselves and to others.