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A Change in Altitude [Hardcover]

Anita Shreve
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Nov 2009
Margaret and Patrick, married just a few months, set off on a great adventure ? a year living in Kenya. While Patrick practices medicine, Margaret works as a photojournalist, capturing a dizzying and sometimes dangerous city on film. When a British couple invites the newlyweds on a climbing expedition to the summit of Mount Kenya, they eagerly agree. But during their arduous ascent a horrific accident occurs. In its aftermath, Margaret struggles to understand what happened on the mountain and how it has transformed her and her marriage, perhaps for ever. With stunning language and striking emotional intensity, A Change in Altitude illuminates the irrevocable impact of tragedy and the elusive nature of forgiveness.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (5 Nov 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408700719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408700716
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 451,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Evoking the landscape of Africa with an infectious passion that could have you booking yourself on the next flight to Nairobi, Shreve's fifteenth novel equally effectively maps the unknow corners of the human heart' --John Harding, DAILY MAIL --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

* The new novel about the fragility of a new marriage from one of our greatest chroniclers of the mysteries of the heart --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!! 31 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An intriguing and glorious book with many facets. Different from other books by Anita Shreve it is set in Africa and tells the story of a troubled marriage between Americans Margaret and Patrick who have come to Africa so that he may study equatorial medicine. Margaret socialises at first with ex Pats but after a fatal accident whilst climbing Mount Kenya her relationship with her husband becomes badly damaged. She takes up work as a photojournalist with an independent newspaper and becomes immersed in the life and culture of Africa.
This is another beautifully written book by Anita Shreve who so obviously painstakingly researched Africa's scenery, culture and language. Everything came alive in front of my eyes.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The most disappointing Anita Shreve novel 2 Jan 2011
By jac7
I agree with other reviews that this is a disappointing effort by Anita Shreve. Her previous novels have a very haunting evocation of place and also character. Reading about New England in those novels has made me wish to visit but having read this book I have no similar desire to see Kenya where it is set.

The book did not seem to know where it was going and blundered down numerous plot cul-de-sacs which added nothing to the story line or characterisation.Ms Shreve seems to try to introduce an element of mystery for example with a plot line about several unfortunate criminal incidents suffered by the 2 main characters but this seems just to peter out as if the author had decided against developing this aspect of the story.

As another reviewer says the book has an oddly period feel whilst clearly being contemporary and, whilst I am much older than the 2 main characters, they seemed to me old fashioned and unrepresentative of younger people today.I found the characters one dimensional and unsympathetic whilst the author is usually good at creating strong well realised female characters in particular.

To finish on an more upbeat note, I enjoyed the description of the climb up Mount Kenya which was the most vivid part of the book and at some points the novel started to make interesting and important points about the treatment of black Kenyans and the suppression of dissident political opinion in the country-it is a pity that this was not more central.

In summary I think that Ms Shreve might need to find herself a better editor that could bring back the coherence to her writing that this book is in my view so sadly lacking.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and deeply moving 24 Feb 2010
Margaret and Patrick are not long married when Patrick takes up a post at a hospital in Nairobi. Seen from Margaret's point of view A Change in Altitude plays on the elison of Altitude and Attitude, describing her culture shock as she becomes a priveliged white ex-patriate in a largely black impoverished society, a target for the simple reasons that she is visible and has whilst thousands have not. Living in a cottage in the grounds of the large house of another couple - Diana, a native white Kenyan, and Arthur, an Englishman - they are invited to stay in the 'Big House' when their plumbing fails. As emotions between the four become entangled Diana and Arthur invite Margaret and Patrick to climb Mount Kenya with them and the smallest of actions result in catastrophic consequences which raise questions about fidelity, love and what marriage can survive. Very well written but very sad, deals with the subjects of ex-colonialism, marriage and love with a light but devastating touch.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle emotions and evocative descriptions 8 May 2010
This book is different to Anita Shreve's earlier work in terms of location. Set in Kenya, it tells the story of Margaret whose marriage to Patrick begins to fragment after a tragic accident while climbing Mount Kenya. However, it is typical Shreve's earlier work in its careful examination of the subtle emotional changes that develop between the couple in the year which follows the tragedy. I enjoyed the wonderfully evocative descriptions of the beauty of Kenya, tempered though these were by indications of the problems of politics and poverty in that country. This is no rose-tinted travelogue but an attempt to present a rounded picture of a place and I think Shreve has pulled that off rather well. I'm not sure I agree with other reviewers about the ending being unsatisfactory as I had a fairly strong sense of a change in Margaret and Patrick's relationship at the end. Shreve has been subtle, but there is resolution here. A recommended and enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books I've ever read 11 April 2012
By Monkey
The characters were one dimensional, the plot line practically non existent. Although the story meanders its way through several hints at a premise, it never seems to actually get a grip on any of them and the reader is left drifting along through a series of disjointed and unexplored themes. Then it stops. Nothing is resolved. If you're considering giving up on this, but sticking with it to see how it ends, don't bother. Make up your own ending. It'll probably be better than the author's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By patsy
I am an Anita Shreve fan and have all her books which, apart from this one , I have thoroughly enjoyed. A Change in Altitude is disjointed and difficult to follow. Her best books are set in New England , an area she obviously knows well and can relate to. While I made the attempt to finish reading this book it was hard going and although I have kept every one of her other books and read them over and over again, I gave this one to a charity shop.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A page turner but it ended abruptly
I enjoyed this book, as did most of the rest of my book club, but we were disappointed by the sudden end. It was very true to the setting of Kenya, however.
Published 18 days ago by Pearl
4.0 out of 5 stars A kenyan setting for a love and strife investigation
A different story from Anita Shreve, interesting setting. Description of altitude sickness and difficulties coping believable. disaster has real repercusions.
Published 2 months ago by Mr Simon D Mercer
2.0 out of 5 stars Not up to standard
Very disappointing - I didn't like it at all, though I have enjoyed her other books. Heavyhanded in airing her knowledge of Kenya and, I thought, rather snide about the English (I... Read more
Published 7 months ago by auntieellie
4.0 out of 5 stars A change in Altitude
Excellent atmosphere and feeling for Africa. I felt that I had been there again. Good story and study of how events affect people's lives. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ruth Seal
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
A lightweight readable story of a newly wed American struggling with life in Nairobi in the late seventies. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Bran
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rather Ordinary Novel
I could not believe in the characters. They were cardboard cutouts. I had no sympathy for Margaret and even less for Patrick. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Bubbles
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
I enjoyed this book. I thought it created the atmosphere of the country and the climb of Mount Kenya well.
Published 13 months ago by Mrs Lynne R Thain
3.0 out of 5 stars One Moment Can Change a Life..
Patrick, a young doctor, and his photographer wife Margaret move to Kenya for Patrick's work. This is the early 1970s, and Kenyan politics are becoming unstable. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Kate Hopkins
3.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing..not her usual good read
Have read all Anita's books and enjoyed them all, some more than others but had to read this and was looking forward to the experience. Read more
Published 14 months ago by julie
3.0 out of 5 stars OK but not her best
I enjoyed it but not as good as other Anita SShreeve books I've read. Agree with some other reviews here.
Published 16 months ago by Cordelia Bryan
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Present suggestion please for Anita Shreve fan 0 6 Oct 2009
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