A Change in Altitude

A Change in Altitude

by Anita Shreve

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316071741
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/22/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 150,887
File size: 455 KB

About the Author

Anita Shreve is the acclaimed author of 14 previous novels, including Testimony; The Pilot's Wife, which was a selection of Oprah's Book Club; and The Weight of Water, which was a finalist for England's Orange prize. She lives in Massachusetts.


New Hampshire; Massachusetts

Date of Birth:



B.A., Tufts University

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Change in Altitude 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 128 reviews.
CBH More than 1 year ago
Climbing Mount Kenya sounded like a real challenge to Margaret and Patrick, especially when they had never climbed a mountain before. They had been in Kenya for several months, getting used to some of the customs, climate, and various groups of people living around them, and were enjoying most all of their experiences. A mountain climb sounded great. They rented housing while in Kenya and had met several people they now felt closer to. Patrick was a doctor who worked in a hospital but also spent much time helping the ill in villages and teaching them about disease and how to care for themselves They got together with several other couples, some with climbing experience, to plan the climb and taking some practice climbs in short mountains in the area to get acclimated. They learned what they had to take along, how to climb, how to breathe, what food was best to take, medicines needed, and what they personally might encounter with their own body and mind. Since they would share crude lodging during the climb, they had to adapt to that and what might occur with some of them physically and mentally. Margaret and Patrick were in love with each other but to what extent they were not sure. The climb brought some feelings and words out that started causing some doubt in both of their minds. The climb began when everyone thought they were prepared, slowly trekking up little by little, stopping, eating, and sleeping when scheduled. Rest time became different with Margaret, as she was not as ready to climb such a high mountain as she thought. Some things good and bad occurred. When one of the party unhooked herself from the group for some unknown reason and fell thousands of feet the entire trek was stopped. This upset all of them and the love between Margaret and Patrick got tenser. Margaret wanted to work and she went to one of the newspapers to get a photography position if they had one open. They hired her on a free lancing basis that she did a good job with and her work became steadier. She also met a handsome man that was paired up with her on assignments that caused her more questions than answers about her and Patrick. The descriptions of locations, people, customs, traditions, and most everything about the area is written so well. I had read a review that said the middle of the story "bogged down" but I found no such thing. The flow was great. As time went on, Margaret and Patrick decided to make the climb again which they did taking another couple along with them. The story will introduce the reader to much about Kenya and its many groups of native and other foreign people that came to Kenya. A very good read. Thanks Anita Shreve for another great story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read Anita Shreve before, but this book was a total disappointment from start to finish. The main characters were not developed at all and I learned so little about them, that I hardly cared what happened to them. They were shallow and completely self-absorbed and you wondered what drew them together to begin with. The secondary characters were weak, too. Everytime the storyline took a turn and I thought something was about to happen, it never really did. All twists and turns were dead-ends. The climbs were all too easy and all too quick for two people that were, supposedly, inexperienced climbers. They hardly seemed prepared to make the climbs in terms of supplies, preparation, etc. The Kenyan backdrop was interesting, but the story was severely lacking. In fact, it was less a story than it was a chronicle of events - none of which seemed pulled together very well to form a story. If you want to read Shreve, stick with some of her classics - "The Pilot's Wife," "Weight of Water," etc.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anita Shreve is one of my favorite authors; however, this book was a bomb! I was glad to get it over with, the characters lacked depth, the plot was dull, the ending just left you hanging. Totally boring! I was not impressed with her previous book, Testimony, either. Would definitely tell people not to waste their money on either.
DLMT More than 1 year ago
I have read every book Anita Shreve has written, this is not her best. I was very disappointed.
Mimi3NH More than 1 year ago
I had been a fan of Anita Shreve for many years. Then I found her less then her usual self. This book brings her up to snuff.It keeps you turning pages. A recommended read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was the most boring book I have ever read. I kept waiting for something to happen, but nothing does! I would not reccommend this book.
AAR More than 1 year ago
A CHANGE IN ATTITUDE by Anita Shreve is a contemporary fiction set in Kenya. It is well written in depth and detail. I thought the ending left a few questions as to the characters future. It has distrust,marriage, tragedy, living in a strange and sometimes dangerous country, the consequences of unintended actions, and the struggle to climb to the top of Mount Kenya. The characters are interesting and will hold your interest. This story shows how an life can change in an instant. It gives an in depth description of Kenya and some of their issues. If you enjoy some small triumphs, struggles with marriage and relationships you will enjoy this one. This book was received for review and details can be found at My Book Addiction and More and Hachette.
julie0903 More than 1 year ago
I was so disappointed with this book, I had to force myself to read it. I kept hoping to find a twist or something but nothing. Her books have become so dull. Cannot compare to Resistance, Weight of Water, Pilot's Wife and such. Bring back the old Anita Shreve. I couldn't engage with the story, the characters, nothing.
JessLucy More than 1 year ago
Not sure why this one isn't getting better reviews; I found this to be one of Shreve's better books. I liked Margaret but couldn't stand Patrick, Arthur, Diana and the Dutch woman. I wished throughout that the protaganist would just tell them all to get lost. She didn't even do anything wrong! I just couldn't stand the attitude of her husband and friends. I liked the ending for two reasons. (I won't give it away). The African setting was absolutely spectacular. I also really liked Body Surfing, Testimony and Eden Close by this same author. You may also enjoy the books of Alice Hoffman; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and anything by Ruth Rendell (especially End in Tears) and Barbara Vine.
NYbooklover More than 1 year ago
A FANTASTIC READ!!! I found A Change in Altitude to be extremely captivating and intriguing! I have been long interested in wanting to learn more about Africa and its people . This was SO interesting in my opinion!The plot was very intriguing in and of itself! The characters were as usual very well drawn by Shreve. I read way in to the very wee hours of the morning and could literally not put this book down to go to bed!I wish there could be a sequel to see what happens to Patrick and Margaret next. Does she leave Africa or stay/where does Patrick go next as a doctor/does Margaret ever see Rafiq again/ I thought this book was multilayered and it really made one think about Africa and about Kenya in particularIt made one think about Margaret and Patrick's marriage and how these situations can arise in a marriage. It was a truly wonderful book, or should I say, experience,that Anita Shreve gave the reader! I wish there were an online barnes and noble book club for this book as I would enjoy discussing this book with others. The ending surprised me, but it gave a lot of food for thought..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book dragged on until the very end. Anita Shreve has written better books - this was a one off. Would not recommend.
RosieNY More than 1 year ago
I've read other books by Anita Shreve and this is one of the best.Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although Anita Shreve's writing style is superb as usual, the plot and the characters of this book were disappointing. I found it unusual that Anita decided to fill this book with fluff rather than content. The end was abrupt and not fulfilling, I wish it would've been given a little more thought. Overall this book was ok.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think every author, even excellent ones, write one stinker in their career. This is Anita Shreve's stinker. I found the characters to be stuffy, self-righteous, selfish, pompous and arrogant. I didn't care what happened to any of them, and halfway through the book I began skipping large chunks of the book, just to get the end. I liked the wild animals more than the people, and wouldn't have been sad if they all died in an avalanche. I'm hoping her future books will be better, as she's capable of so much more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy reading the Anita Shreve books. Each provides a very real and honest look at complex relationships. Usually, I read them pretty quickly because I can't put the book down! This one was harder for me to get into to, but I stuck with it. The story become more interesting in the middle of the book, after the tragic accident that redefines the heroine's marriage and her view of her husband. The end left me wanting a little bit...a little confused about what the future held for the marriage. Not my favorite of her books, but if you are an Anita Shreve fan, worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had it not been that this book was required for a book club discussion, I would have put it down and never finished it. It lacked any plot to speak of, the characters were boring as hell, and the story line left a lot to be desired. I really had a hard time reading through it, and I kept thinking something would happen to make it more interesting reading. It didn't, and when I got to the end, I was looking for something to catch my attention. The beginning of the book was painful to read...not really capturing my attention, and darting from one thing to another. The middle of the book got a little more interesting, and the ending was a disappointment. Don't know if I would read anything else by this author.
Madamereadsalot More than 1 year ago
I have read other books by Anita Shreve and really enjoyed them. This book however, was a complete disappointment. It's been a long time since I read a book and got to the end thinking...."I wasted 300 pages for that????" Yes, the story contains symbolism, and yes the author wants the reader to draw his or her own conclusions at the end; but the feeling of disjointedness, the under developed plot, and the wishy washy main characters make this book a true disappointment.
astults on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My body was sitting on the beach at Topsail Island, North Carolina but my mind was transported to the dusty streets of Nairobi before the seasonal rains while reading A Change of Altitude. It was not surprising to learn Anita Shreve once lived in Kenya. Only someone who lived there could capture the moral questions that come up when living in a country different from your own.A Change of Altitude is about Margaret, a newlywed who lives with her husband, Patrick, in Kenya. He's a doctor doing research on tropical diseases. She's at a bit of a loss on how to spend her time since the move. Margaret was a reporter in Boston and now feels purposeless. Patrick and Margaret are invited to climb Mount Kenya with two other couples. An accident during the climb changes the course of their marriage.This book can easily be a book club favorite if readers are brave enough to pick it up. The events make Margaret ask some hard questions about herself and her marriage. Although the average reader won't have lived in another country where the customs are different, many of the feelings and doubts expressed by Margaret have been felt by someone in a relationship. There are the normal marriage questions such as whether or not to have children, if children are in the future then when would be a good time to start trying and the harder questions such as which characteristics in my mate can be overlooked and which ones should I confront him/her about? It can make the reader ask those questions of themselves and some readers will find they aren't ready for those answers.
pak6th on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Young and newly married, Margaret and Patrick go to Kenya to live and work. New friends Arthur and Diana invite then to hike Mount Kenya with another couple. When the climb results in a horrific accident, Margaret has to face the repercussions of her actions. Was she to blame? Margaret thinks not and is stunned that Patrick thinks she is. Further actions on her part lead the reader to see that she really does need a change in altitude and attitude.
Quiltinfun06 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Change in Altitude is yet another magnificent novel by Anita Shreve. Margaret and Patrick leave Boston and head to Africa so that Patrick a doctor can do research. While there, they move into a cottage owned by Diana and Arthur, who are an adventuresome type. Before too long, Margaret and Patrick are planning to go on a climb to the top of Mt. Kenya. This is no easy feat and Margaret soon comes to realize that she is ill prepared for such an expedition. She struggles to keep up and belong and tries not to cause any trouble for the other climbers. Soon, the unforeseen occurs and Diana falls to here death leaving Arthur and the rest of the climbers in shock. What happened? Why did Diana, a climber with some experience, break away from the pack and take a risk that caused her death? All eyes and blame are on placed on Margaret.She now bears the weight of her decision and actions. She has more to concern herself with after the climb as she tries to maintain a marriage that is marred by the tragedy on Mt Kenya. In an attempt to find herself she takes on employment as a photographer with a controversial newspaper and further complicates her life.This is a well written novel that graphically portrays the tensions in Africa as the people suffer through harsh political times. While Africa struggles so do Patrick and Margaret to save their marriage and come to terms with the tragedy on Mt. Kenya.I recommend this novel as strongly as I have all the other novels written by Shreve. It doesn¿t fail to deliver a wonderful adventure transporting the reader to another place and time where life isn¿t simple and love even harder to survive.
Carolee888 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Anita Shreve book. I enjoyed it so much that now I am a fan and will look for her other books. The feel of Kenya's wildlife and different tribe's cultures were made the book very rich. I was a little hesitant to read this book because of the scenes of climbing Mount Kenya as I have acrophobia and would not want to attempt any climb. I also had recently read several books about the violence of the different wars in Africa. I also had recently read several books about the violence of the different wars in Africa. Instead this book centered on a newly married couple and their friends and colleagues temporally in Kenya and their relationships between each other and Margaret inner relationship with herself. Diane,one of the couples in the first mountain climb said that trouble comes in threes an old adage that I had always heard and experienced. I was wondering along with the main character Margaret when the third trouble would come. I don't want to give too much away so I won't tell much of the story. But there were several things to ponder in this book. One was risky behavior. What would make you try it and what would be the consequences? Another has to do with marriage. What can one partner expect from the spouse and if the marriage goes wrong, do you leave it or take extraordinary steps to save it. How is infidelity defined? What if the two partners in marriage define fidelity differently? I thought that characters, especially Margaret were very well developed. We were able to follow her feelings all the way through the book. The last sentence in the book was truly beautiful. It didn't come out and say what Margaret was thinking but in just a few words, Anita Shreve had Margaret speak volumes of what she had achieved and the state of her emotional wellbeing. I loved this book. I would recommend it to all of Anita Shreve's fans and all those who like to question themselves.
mojomomma on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The main character, Margaret, needs a good shaking. You could say I had a difficult time empathsizing with her. Margaret and Patrick are newly married and move to Kenya where he is researching tropical diseases. Some friends invite them along on a mountain climb in which one of the party dies and Margaret may be to blame. This tests her marriage, but Margaret maintains her innocence. As she and her husband grow more distant, Margaret's head is turned by a co-worker at a newspaper where shw works as a photographer. By the end of the novel, her marriage is in shreds, but Margaret conquers the mountain. I wish Shreve had given our heroine a backbone and had spent more time developing the plot line in which the Kenyan political climate of the day (1970s?) was more fully explored. THAT is the story here, not poor dumb Margaret being whippeted about.
crazy4reading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Change in Altitude was interesting but not one of my favorites by Anita Shreve. The story is about a husband and wife living in Africa. Patrick is a doctor and working with a local hospital in Africa and doing free clinics. Margaret went with him but doesn't have a job to begin with.I found some of the story interesting and wanting to continue and other parts just wanting to skip over. Patrick and Margaret are living in an adjoining house with another couple. I found that couple to be some what annoying. They decide to climb this mountain and something awful happens that causes a rift between Patrick and Margaret.I found myself wondering through most of the book if Patrick and Margaret would stay married, if either one had an affair and if maybe they just weren't meant to be together.
moonshineandrosefire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Margaret and Patrick are married a couple of months and embark on what they hope will be a life-changing adventure - a year living in Kenya. Margaret soon realizes that there are mores that she doesn't understand about her new country and her new husband. When a British couple invites them to go mountain-climbing they eagerly accept. There is an horrific accident that takes place on the mountain and the ramifications shake Margaret to her core and makes her question her marriage and changes her, perhaps forever.I really got hooked on this book. It is very well-written and thought-provoking. I give it an A+!
ValNewHope on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked her writing style, but the plot devices seemed forced and the initial decision to climb the mountain seemed foolhardy at best. But it did keep me reading until the end.