Kellyreaderofbooks's Reviews > A Change in Altitude

A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve
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Oct 18, 09

Young American couple Patrick and Margaret have high hopes when they move to Kenya, just a few months after they are married. He is a doctor; hoping to do some research on equitorial diseases and do a good deed by working at various clinics. Margaret is up for an adventure, and is an inspiring photographer who has found the perfect subject: the peoples of Africa.

Soon after their arrival, they become friends of a sort with Diana and Arthur, a fellow expat couple from the UK. Margaret is a bit intimidated by them: Diana is a no-nonsense outdoorswoman who is cool towards Margaret; and Simon a controlling snob who likes to flirt with her.

Soon after they meet, the two couples plus another couple (friends of Diana and Arthur) plan a trip to climb to the top of Mount Kenya. Margaret is confident she can do it, despite having no experience with mountain climbing and knowing the risks. The trip turns out to be a nightmare for her, especilly as she and Simon come closer to doing irreversible damage to their respective marriages. Near the top of the mountain, a horrible tragedy happens that will affect Margaret and those around her for months to come.

A Change in Altitude is my second favorite of the four Shreve's books I've now read, second only to The Weight of Water. Some of the appeal of this book for me is the setting: Kenya is exotic, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous at the time the book is set (no idea what the current conditions are now, but the book is set shortly before Kenyatta's death in 1978). There's a background story going on during the novel that concerns the government and political unrest, and I found that more fascinating than Margaret's troubles. Margaret herself at times annoyed me; for most of the book she is very self-absorbed, and sometimes does foolish things under the circumstances. Despite that, I recommend this book, especially if you like books set in Africa. It's a really fast read (I zipped through it in a day, and I am not a very fast reader), and entertaining.

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Suzifla who the heck is Simon?

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