Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Review: A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

Newlyweds Margaret and Patrick embark on a yearlong adventure living in Kenya which ends up putting strain on their marriage.

As soon as Nicole heard I was going to Kenya, she generously offered to send me this novel and I was excited to have the opportunity to read it while I was there (thanks Nicole!). It is set in the late 1970s, but there was still much familiar about the country described, especially in regards to the high level of crime, the recreational activities, and the divide between expats and Kenyans. But although everything that had to do with the setting was incredibly engaging, the story itself meandered about with a bit of tragedy here, a bit of temptation to cheat there, but no real identifiable arc.

I was puzzled why Margaret would find Patrick attractive – he seemed like a self-absorbed jerk to me most of the time. The ending made sense though, and showed how much Margaret had grown over the course of the narrative.

A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

16 comments:

Becky said...

Interesting review, this one is not for me, but thanks for sharing. I like to read books set in the places that I'm going to or have already visited.

Staci said...

I've read a few mixed reviews on this. I'm so glad that Nicole sent you this book but I'm not going to rush out to read this one. However, I would love to visit Kenya!!

jlshall said...

Thanks for the review of this. I've never read anything by Anita Shreve, and I suppose this isn't the book to start with. Everything I've read about this one makes me think she really probably needed a more forceful editor. Guess that's one of the hazards of fame.

bermudaonion said...

I'm curious about this book. The reviews have been all over the place, but I do love Anita Shreve so I plan to give it a try.

~Mary said...

I'm reading this NOW!

Heather Zundel said...

Interesting. It's so nice your friend thought of you while planning this trip.

Sadako said...

I've never heard it or heard of it, but it sounds really intriguing. Like the title, too.

Beth F said...

I've read a number of books about ex-pats in Kenya in the earlier part of the 20th century, but not so many contemporary accounts. This novel might fill in a bit for me. I read my first Shreve novel this year and really liked it.

Dar said...

I agree, I didn't like Patrick at all!

Alice Teh said...

I have not read this but I suspect I have another book by Shreve...

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

You're welcome!

I'm kind of loving all of the mixed reviews on tis one. I think I was okay with meandering because it was Margaret's story and she questioned so much while being unsure of her right to do so that I viewed her as a bit lost. Would probably be a great book club discussion book.

Welcome back!

Lenore said...

Nicole, I was ok with the meandering in this book too, but I suspect I was more patient than usual due to my fascination with the setting. I could imagine it generating a healthy discussion, certainly!

Anna said...

I've seen mixed reviews of this one, but I plan to read it because Shreve is one of my favorite authors. Glad to know she succeeded in capturing the setting.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Allie said...

I do love the idea of reading about Kenya and I do tend to love books about ex-pats, but it sounds like you're a little lukewarm on this one and I suspect I would be too.

Zibilee said...

I have heard a lot of negative things about this book and I doubt it would work for me. I read another Shreve book this year (Sea Glass) and wasn't all that impressed with either the story or the writing. I have come to the conclusion that Shreve is just not for me.

Anonymous said...

What a great resource!