Margaret and Patrick have been married just a few months when they set off on what they hope will be a great adventure-a year living in Kenya. Margaret quickly realizes there is a great deal she doesn't know about the complex mores of her new home, and about her own husband.
A British couple invites the newlyweds to join on a climbing expedition to Mount Kenya, and they eagerly agree. But during their harrowing ascent, a horrific accident occurs. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Margaret struggles to understand what happened on the mountain and how these events have transformed her and her marriage, perhaps forever.
A Change in Altitude illuminates the inner landscape of a couple, the irrevocable impact of tragedy, and the elusive nature of forgiveness. With stunning language and striking emotional intensity, Anita Shreve transports us to the exotic panoramas of Africa and into the core of our most intimate relationships.
Before I even read this book, I had already noticed several mixed reviews. I have found that for the most part, I usually enjoy Shreve's work so I decided to give this one a shot. Although I will confess that this book wasn't one of my favorites by Shreve, I did find some enjoyment throughout the pages.
Margaret and Patrick are newlyweds that have decided to start their lives off together by spending some time in Africa. As a doctor Patrick finds himself very busy and working quite long hours, while Margaret is a photojournalist and was not working for quite some time after they arrived in Africa so she found herself getting quite frustrated with her mundane lifestyle. They don't have many friends in the area, so after being alone all day Margaret is starving for people to be with. So it really wasn't a surprise when after meeting Arthur and Diana they dive right into a friendship with people they hardly know for the feeling of companionship.
After several outings together, the two couples decide to take on the challenge of climbing Mount Kenya together. Little do they know that climbing this mountain will change all of their lives forever. After the tragedy on the mountain they return to their lives in a way that pushes the events of the climb to the far recesses of their minds. Even though Patrick doesn't want to talk about what happened on the mountain, Margaret is haunted by the memory and can't understand why she can't seem to go on with her life when the others don't seem to have a problem.
One thing that I have always liked about Shreve's writing is that she always seems to spin a story about realistic people. I can't say that I liked Margaret or Patrick's characters, but I think that is one of the reasons that I did enjoy this book. In real life I don't like everyone that crosses my path, so why would I expect that in a book? I do admit that I would have liked to get to know Margaret a bit more throughout the story. But then when I consider how young Margaret actually was in the story, I can't help but ask myself how much more could she have offered as a character?
Throughout the story Margaret struggles with the guilt that the tragedy on the mountain was her fault. It doesn't help when her husband openly admits that he also blames her for the events that took place. For me, this story was about Margaret finding her true self by seeking forgiveness mostly from her own mind and emotions. It is only when she accepts herself that she will be able to move on and find her place in this world.
I want to thank Miriam from Hachette for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you are interested in viewing more work by Anita Shreve please check out her website here.
My Rating: 4/5
Here are some other reviews that you may want to ponder:
Bibliophile by the Sea
she reads and reads
A Novel Menagerie
Peeking Between the Pages