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A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve
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A Change in Altitude: 07/07/11

cover art

Anita Shreve is one of those authors I deeply respect. She is always experimenting with different stories and voices. Although I might not love one of her novels, I will always be challenged by it. I will also remember it!

A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve has the honor of being the only book I've been tempted to buy from seeing a book trailer. This is also a book that prompted me to ask on LiveJournal what people call roundabouts. See Margaret's an American and she says they are called traffic circles but where I am in Northern California we call them roundabouts in the British fashion.

The book opens with newlyweds Margaret and Patrick preparing to climb Mount Kenya. Mostly it's Patrick's dream but Margaret is more or less willing to play along. They are going with other immigrants to Kenya who have done the climb before. It's apparently the thing westerners do for fun and to prove themselves. The climb though doesn't go as planned and it changes things between Patrick and Margaret.

The rest of the book is the aftermath of the climb and how Margaret grows as a person. Through hard work, emotional distress and sacrifice she finds her place in Kenya and it isn't as Patrick's wife. It's a great story of a fish out of water, economic and social inequalities and politics.

Since reading the book I've been putting my copy into the hands of my friends and family — anyone willing to give it a try. It has taken the top spot as my favorite Anita Shreve novel, beating out Sea Glass.

Five stars.

Comments (6)

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Comment #1: Wednesday, July, 13, 2011 at 01:15:50


Beats Sea Glass? That is saying something. I thought I was tired of Anita Shreve but I might have to give her another try.

Comment #2: Friday, July 15, 2011 at 15:24:11


Sea Glass is excellent but I think she's grown as a writer.

Comment #3: Wednesday, July, 13, 2011 at 18:51:23


Sea Glass is my favorite Shreve novel, and if this one is better, I need to read it!

They call them roundabouts in MD, but growing up in New England, we called them rotaries.

Comment #4: Friday, July 15, 2011 at 15:24:11


I hope you give A Change in Altitude a try. In the California DMV handbook they're listed as "traffic circles" but everyone just calls them roundabouts.

Comment #5: Friday, July, 15, 2011 at 05:26:13

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

I don't always enjoy Shreve but I would like to read Rescue sometime soon

Comment #6: Friday, July 15, 2011 at 15:28:52


I plan to read Rescue too. I'm like you, I don't like all of her books but I respect her for trying new things in each one.

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