The story of The Moth and the Mountain - December 21
Our founder and curator, Tim, shares why the Moth and the Mountain opened up some, perhaps surprising, narrative topics.
It may seem odd for a book club dedicated to tales of adventure, but there have been remarkably few opportunities for us to revel in the golden age of exploration. Or in notable ascents of our planet's highest peak.
Both topics have become rather complicated of late. The early days of adventure find their protagonists entangled in an era of uncaring colonialism, unthinking exploitation and outright brutality.
The ascent of Everest has similarly been reconstructed as a socially and environmentally destructive endeavour, demonstrating a lack of spiritual connection in our quest for dominion.
Yet, much as the Moth and the Mountain reveals Maurice Wilson's unconventional route to the roof of the world, the book also provides a way into both these hitherto neglected narratives.
Had Ed Caesar conjured the complex anti-hero of Wilson from fiction, he would likely face derision for creating far too fantastical a character. Yet this is a true story, redolent with the opportunistic spirit of the age, demonstrated by Wilson's determination to do things his own way on the rebound from heroic actions in The Great War.
This is a wonderfully tall tale of adventure, which made me yearn for an impossible sequel the moment I turned the final page. A sense of loss on reaching the end of a book is always a good sign.
And, despite Caesar's extensive research into Wilson's forgotten story, he still manages to drape a veil of mystery over the mystery Maurice took to his grave. The secret his family have clammed up about too.
Yet, there are hints aplenty in Caesars carefully constructed prose. Even, I realised, in the opening lines; the reading of which became my own personal adventure, as I headed up into the hills of the South Pennines in search of a suitably snowy backdrop...