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BEYOND THE MOUNTAIN: A NOVEL Elizabeth Arthur 1993 New Paperback
By Arthur, Elizabeth
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Minnesota, 1993 [1983]. 211 pp. Well-reviewed and suspenseful climbing fiction, Himalayan expedition setting. New Paperback.  We have hardcovers in stock as well.

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Elizabeth Arthur’s first book, Island Sojourn, won her acclaim for its extraordinary subtlety and depth. Beyond the Mountain, her first work of fiction, will mark another kind of beginning - the arrival of an important novelist whose new book is as vivid as her last, but even more finely hewn in its subtlety and violence. Original and unforgettable images mark this novel about guilt, desire, and passion. Its beautifully crafted observations reveal, in Joseph Conrad’s words, “a single-minded attempt to render the highest kind of justice to the visible universe.

Why climb a mountain? Because it’s there. Sir George Leigh Mallory’s famous explanation has haunted the imagination since its utterance, yet for those who have never climbed, its meaning remains as inscrutable, as tantalizing, as enigmatic as the jutting snow-shrouded palisades of the mountain at the heart of this novel. On that mountain’s slopes is set the story of a climber and her ascent to escape from her past.

Artemis Phillips has been a climber for most of her life. With her brother Orion and her husband Nicholas Rhodes she has traveled to some of the world’s great ranges and achieved fame as an accomplished mountaineer. When she joins a women’s expedition in Nepal, she is only dimly aware of the forces which push her up the slopes, but it becomes clear that she desires atonement. For Temis, the ascent becomes a series of confrontations - with those strangers who make Nepal their home, with the challenge of snow and ice, with memory and desire. The simplicity of the mountain symbolizes everything Temis wants to be - and her odyssey is largely a journey into the past and into her electric, obsessive, passionate marriage to Nicholas, a marriage that has almost destroyed her.

Elizabeth Arthur proves again that she is a writer of formidable talent. Beyond the Mountain shows us people in extremis and illuminates the complexities of our lives. In the end, the novel is an affirmation - of independence and the fellowship of man.


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