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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!
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...
Published on 31 Dec 2009 by Louise Messik

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The most disappointing Anita Shreve novel
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...
Published on 2 Jan 2011 by jac7


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The most disappointing Anita Shreve novel, 2 Jan 2011
This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Paperback)
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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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!, 31 Dec 2009
By 
Louise Messik "book lover" (Estepona, Spain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Hardcover)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle emotions and evocative descriptions, 8 May 2010
By 
EllyBlue (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Paperback)
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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and deeply moving, 24 Feb 2010
By 
Jo Bennie (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Hardcover)
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fails to reach the heights, 27 May 2010
By 
S. Finch (Stratford-upon-Avon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Paperback)
This was the first title I had read by Anita Shreve. I chose to read it to get an idea of life in Kenya as a friend of mine grew up there - I'm going to pass it on to her for an opinion.
As a novel I found it passable but disappointing. The characters were shallow and I felt it could have been greatly improved in this respect if the author had used a first person narrative to at least give a better insight into the 'heroine'. I', not really sure that heroine is an appropriate term for someone stupid enough to attempt to climb a high mountain without adequate preparation, experience and clothing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Change in altitude, or attitude?, 23 July 2014
Hmm, I found this rather hard to get into and without too much in the way of real story – I was left at the end wondering what it was all about. I decided (along with a friend at the book group, where it was our July choice) that the theme was the empowerment of women. I haven’t read anything by Anita Shreve before so I couldn’t make any comparisons with previous work. I also didn’t know anything about Kenya either but I bow to her superior knowledge. This work has been either meticulously researched, or Shreve has spent a substantial amount of time there herself. I was very impressed with her evocation of Nairobi but I laboured to understand some of the terminology (I had to look up what an askari was, for example). Perhaps a glossary at the beginning would have been a good idea? It wasn’t clear when the book was actually set. (I thought at first as Out of Africa was mentioned, but nobody had used emails or mobiles it must have been between 1984-1995) but as Jomo Kenyatta features, this firmly places it before 1978. The Out of Africa mentioned must have been the book rather than the film.

I thought parts of the story were uncomfortable and unrealistic. The whole story was told from Margaret’s point of view, even though it was in the 3rd person. We only had first hand views from Margaret, and I found her husband Patrick to be really badly drawn. We never got to know him properly, other than the fact he was extremely unsupportive when the tragedy occurred. I got a picture of Margaret from the beginning as a wimpy mouse, who was willing to be subdued by and follow the lead of her husband, and seemed in awe of their colonial-type friends Diana and Arthur, putting up with being patronised by Arthur and seeming to bow to Diana’s “superior knowledge”. They didn’t seem like real friends to me. Having worked out the time the book was set and given Margaret is an American this seemed at odds with the prevailing spirit of the times; equal pay for women, advent of Cosmopolitan magazine etc. Not only this, she allowed Diana and Arthur’s friends to bully her, treat her with disdain, and force her into climbing a mountain she unmistakeably had no interest in whatsoever. Why not just say no? Even worse, she meekly accepts the blame for the tragedy herself when it is quite clearly down to the “change in altitude” – which becomes symbolic as well as literal. Diana was not a sympathetic character, and for the first part of the book Margaret is treated like a ditsy woman. I just could not understand the point of the climb, the reason for it, and kept on asking myself why, why, why would you even bother? What was she aiming to show because it fell on stony ground with me.

It picked up in part two when Margaret seemed to take control of her life and showed guts and chutzpah not seen before, and waltzed into the offices of a political newspaper with her portfolio of photographs (as she had been a photo-journalist before her marriage and indeed this is how she met her husband). This shows her becoming more independent, and throws her into deep political waters, intimidating situations and makes her question her marriage. She develops a potential romantic relationship with Rafiq, another journalist, who I thought one of the more interesting characters – but this goes nowhere. However I was so glad to see Margaret developing a backbone and some sort of personality. There were some seemingly pointless incidents – for example the burglary of the house, which seemed to serve no purpose to the plot other than to make Patrick and Margaret move house.

The most bizarre twist for me was the ending and the decision Margaret and Patrick make. Not only is this something I could not imagine reprising, I thought the ending simply fizzled and left the reader thinking “so what?” and “What now?”

Was the change in altitude really a change in attitude?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Depressing and not the usual Anita Shreve standard, 30 Mar 2010
By 
This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Paperback)
A Change in Altitude

Patrick and Margaret are newlyweds, new to Africa - he is a doctor, she doesn't work initially, and spends much time with her camera.

They decide to climb Mount Kenya with two other couples, for which Margaret is clearly ill prepared. Descriptions of some of the problems of mountain climbing, particularly for the novice, are enough to put most people off ever trying. A tragedy occurs on the climb and nothing will ever be the same again. Their marriage is on very shaky ground, and may not survive.

Margaret persuades a newspaper to take her on, having demonstrated her considerable skills with a camera. She throws herself into her work, accompanying reporters and taking photographs to accompany their articles. She gets involved in some of the seamier side of life in Africa. Investigative journalism on a very sensitive topic leads to the arrest and/or deportation of Rafiq and Solomon, her colleagues at the newspaper, and she is advised not to turn up to work again for fear of the same treatment.

Interesting, but a somewhat depressing read, with some unresolved issues - will Margaret and Patrick's marriage survive? What happened to Rafiq and Solomon?

Definitely not Anita Shreve's best
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different ingredients every time, 5 Jan 2010
By 
RH (Evesham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Hardcover)
This book grew on me as it developed.
In Part One I was annoyed by the use of words which I didn't know and in their situation was unlikely to understand. For example, "The trek was sisyphean." I felt this type of writing had an element of point scoring which had been absent from Shreve's other books.
But in Part Two I became more intrigued by the character of Margaret and equally more frustrated with Patrick so that I hardly noticed the writing itself.
The denouement was a little surreal for my taste and it was left in the air as to how the relationship between the two of them would be in the future. I agree with the other reviewer who thought this was a weakness.
I will always read Shreve's novels because no two books are the same and each brings its own revelations and challenges, but I am realistic; it is rare for an author to totally satisfy someone with every book they write.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars not good, 16 Mar 2012
This review is from: A Change In Altitude (Paperback)
I have read Anita Shreve before, including The Weight of Water and Testimony. Both excellent. So I had no hesitation in buying A Change in Altitude. Surely this was not written by the same author, more likely to be her 10 year old apprentice. There are far too many short, and I mean short, sentences which makes it jerky and disruptive. It simply does not flow like a good novel should. It's like comparing a new Mercedes to a 20 year old 2 stroke Lada, this book being the Lada. A Change in Altitude will be donated to a charity shop along with all my other that I shall never read again. If any other reader is of a similar opinion, please don't leave it on a train or plane for some other poor soul to start reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Three and a half stars really!, 1 Jan 2012
By 
Laura C (Surrey, England) - See all my reviews
This is the first novel I have read by Anita Shreeve, bought for me as a Christmas present by my son, so I can't compare it to her previous work.

The story, in principle, was a good one and I loved reading about Kenya and it's people. The account of the climb up Mount Kenya was good and I found myself "Googling" it to see images and find out more. But I felt the characters (and not just the main ones) lacked depth and emotion and I found it hard to visualise or empathise with any of them. Patrick and Margaret arrived in Kenya as young newlyweds and I found it hard to believe their relationship was affected so badly as a result of the tragic incident on the mountain. I found myself wanting to bash their heads together, yell at them to talk to each other, get angry and shout at each other if necessary. I don't think Margaret deserved to be burdened with all the blame and have to carry the guilt with her for what amounted (in my eyes) to no wrong doing on her part! I don't think people would have had these attitudes in the 70s, particularly young English and Americans. I also found the ending very disappointing with far too many loose ends.

Another reviewer mentioned the fact that the book contained a lot of Kenyan terminology and suggested a glossary would have been helpful. I couldn't agree more on this.

On a more positive note, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, had to keep dipping into it to find out what happened next, and finished it within a few days. I will definitely be trying another of Ms Shreeve's novels.
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A Change In Altitude
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