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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright

It's surprising to learn that steely-eyed actor Peter Finch's father (or step-father) was just as interesting as he was! Maverick Mountaineer by Robert Wainwright tells the fascinating story of George Ingle Finch, a scientist and mountaineer.  Even people who are not at all interested in climbing, are likely to enjoy this tale of adventure and heartbreak set in colonial Australia, civilised Europe and the then mysterious Himalayas.  (I even liked Wainwright's descriptions of mountaineering, and I get vertigo!)

Finch started his climbing career near Orange where his science-loving father owned a large property. However, the young boy eventually lived with his beautiful, society-loving mother in Europe and finished his education there, eventually studying science and becoming a lecturer.  He had several gifts, including being able to play the piano at concert level. The 'wild colonial boy' went climbing with his brother Max at a young age and soon made a name for himself as an accomplished mountaneer who conquered the highest mountains in Europe and even invented useful products for the steep, icy slopes.  Unfortunately, the Australian Finch was considered an outsider by some of the rather snobbish and jealous Establishment figures in the climbing world, and this was to lead to several unfortunate episodes.  For example, he was left out of an expedition to Mount Everest, and there was also a battle about the use of oxygen on the mountains.

The book also recounts Finch's troubles with women, for example, Peter Finch's mother. She was a pretty young socialite who broke George's heart by constantly being unfaithful.  He punished her by gaining custody of Peter but then left Peter with his grandmother.  Peter lived an enjoyable life in Paris with Laura, George's mother, but the poor young boy ended up in Sydney at a house run by Theosophists and  unwanted by most of his relatives, although his grandfather looked after him for a while.

I highly recommend this book if you like enjoyable biographies about eccentric characters, especially if you are interested in the connection with Peter Finch.

I received this free ebook from Harper Collins Australia via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Wainwright, Robert     Maverick Mountaineer

Paperback   $32.95

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