A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve is the story of newlywed Margaret, who follows her husband Patrick to Kenya shortly after their marriage. Once there, they meet a British couple, Arthur and Diana, who invite them to join a climbing expedition up Mount Kenya with another couple. The trip ends in tragedy, which causes Margaret to reevaluate her life and her marriage.
Last year, I read Testimony, Shreve’s previous novel, and was quite disappointed to find myself not enjoying it because I consider Shreve to be one of my favourite authors (read my review). Unfortunately, I felt the same way about this novel: the story failed to engage me. Although Margaret is a sympathetic character, I never connected with her. It seemed to me that Shreve kept her at arm’s length; I wanted to get into her head more. And the tragedy unfortunately struck me as a bit ridiculous—I felt impatient with the character who felt responsible for what happened, when it seemed clear to me that responsibility lay elsewhere (how’s that for not giving anything away?). Worse still, despite the liberal sprinkling of African words throughout the novel (so much so that I wished there was a glossary included in the book) and despite the fact that Shreve actually lived in Kenya for several years, the country never really came alive for me. Instead, the subplot involving Arthur and Diana’s servants felt predictable and forced. Overall, I wish I’d followed my own advice (which I mentioned in my review of Testimony): skip the latest Shreve book and read one of her earlier ones instead.
To read other reviews (many of them more favourable than mine), head over to these blogs:
A Novel Menagerie • Bibliophile by the Sea • Book Nook Club • Foreign Circus Library • Jo-Jo Loves to Read • Laura’s Reviews • Luxury Reading • Presenting Lenore • S. Krishna’s Books
Thank you to Hachette for sending me this book to review.