Again, as a climber I've read most of the "big mountain" books. This is at once one of the best and quite different. I want to say upfront that even just the adventure/climbing part is excellent - this is an adventure book, not a woman's adventure book.
Vanessa is a finance professional caught up in the 2008 crash. She decides to set a non-work goal on which to focus. Naturally she chooses Everest, during a tequila-fueled girls' night. That tells you a lot about VOB - Mt. Everest is her first goal, not throwing a pot or salsa dancing, and she's also a real woman's woman with all of the real-world concerns, attachments, laughter, and tears that often seem to be missing from mens' stories of mountainous and polar adventure.
VOB shows you the good and the bad of the challenges she has surmounted: first Everest, then all Seven Summits, then the Explorers Grand Slam (where, y'know, you just throw in the North and South Poles on top). From snarky, sexist guides/creepy co-travelers (let me tell you, both of these happen and NO ONE talks about it), to base camp drama, to real bonding and emotional connections on and off trail, this is a great read if you wonder what it is like *emotionally* and socially to do these treks....especially as a woman. Since VOB was in the business world so long, she can accurately compare boardroom dynamics with dynamics on the world's tallest peaks...and they definitely relate!
Women, especially driven, professional women, and especially those (like me) who aspire to make these summits, will really appreciate this book. It is a rare perspective that VOB has gifted us. Also, ever wonder what it's like to tell hubby (in this case, "Spousey") that you are going to dig further into the savings to climb yet another peak with "only" a single digit death rating? Listen and learn young grasshopper!
On top of all this, VOB carefully unspools a small outline of her own family history, which is painful and often violent. This does not dominate, but gives us a window into who she is and what drives her. It also tells us all that what hurts us can also push us to achieve incredible things.
In between, YES, you get a great climber/mountaineer/adventure story so please, again, men and others, don't skip this one because it lends a female perspective. It is as valid and as powerful a tale as any of the other legendary record-setting mountaineers have given us.
Well-written and intimate, definitely fascinating - also really useful as even the details of training come through....I recommend this book both for climbers who aspire to such heights and for anyone challenged with life and career shifts. If you're a woman in business, or anyone who has experienced dismissal and exclusion, you will relate exponentially.