A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve

Newly married Patrick and Margaret decide to make a trip to Kenya.  Patrick a doctor, is busy with his practice and Margaret a photography novice, finds she has much idle time on her hands.  When her car breaks down, Margaret finds herself being helped by an English couple Arthur and Diana.  The couples quickly become friends and Arthur and Diana offer Patrick and Margaret a nice cottage to use on their property.  In short time it is discovered that Arthur and Diana are planning a trip up Mt Kenya and invite the other couple along.  Margaret is unsure, but Patrick is excited and encouraging so the trip is planned.

The trip turns out to be a big mistake in more ways than one and a tragic accident where Margaret plays a role, changes the dynamics of life for Patrick and Margaret forever. 

I have read and enjoyed Anita Shreve before.  Her book Testimony, blew me away.  However I have to say this story eked me in so many ways and does not rate more from me than an unfortunate rant, in which I apologize for before I even begin.

First off… I listened to this on audio and it seemed to take forever for the story to get moving.  I believe it was disc three before it became interesting and that was actually the highlight of the audio/ book… the actual climbing of Mt. Kenya and the moments before and after the big plot drop.  I actually loved that part and thought ok…. now we are going….


shortly after the big happening the story dropped off for me again.  While more interesting than the beginning (as now there was the *happening* to deal with), it just overall fell flat.

Margaret was extremely unlikable.  And no I do not have to love all my main characters, but they do need to have something behind the unsuitableness and Margaret was just… bland.  She had no fire or spunk.  Se also had no sense of right and wrong, and no conscience (ok… maybe that’s the same thing…).  I also felt I really never knew Patrick.  Margaret mainly takes the center stage and Patrick pops in and out of the picture.  I never felt the urge to cheer him on or yell at him to wake up.  he was kind of “ehhh”.

With all that said, in the end it felt like the story line just stopped.  No big triumphant “ah ha” moment… just kind of end of the journey.  Period.  The End.  Roll Credits.  Thank the academy.

It was really a “meh” read.  Errr…. listen (audio).

I will certainly venture my way back to Anita Shreve as she touches on some powerful subjects ands gives me the feeling of a stronger personalitied Jodi Piccoult.  And of course, check out other opinions on this one.  I could certainly be in the minority here.  But my two cents are that Shreve has done better and I think if you were new to this author this would not be the one I suggest you start with. 

 In recap this book was an “ehhh”, “meh, “errrrr” read.

Amazon Rating

Good Reads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include A Change In Altitude

I picked this one up at my local library


33 thoughts on “A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve

  1. You need to read her early work, Try Resistance. My theory… should I be allow to assume…. her work was much stronger before she was diagnosed. I’m sure she being coached to write for current trends too (removing the level of detail she used to include).

    She wrote two books, about five years apart where the main characters were the same people. Those two are SO good!

    1. My two cents: I totally agree with Mari that her earlier novels are much better. (I disliked TESTIMONY as well). But I’m curious about two things: “before she was diagnosed”? What does that mean? And which two books feature the same characters? I’ve read many of her earlier novels but didn’t know that the same characters reappeared in a second book.

  2. Sorry about your reading experience. I stopped reading her, then starting reading again when a publisher sent me Testimony. Which was back to her form that I like.

    One of my favorite books was Weight of Water. This one, was one of my first book club reads.

  3. Great review. I also don’t need to “like” the character(s) but I have to fee SOMETHING for them to be emotionally invested. I haven’t read this one, nor was it on my list, but I find authors like Anita, who often write moving books, don’t hit it out of the park with each novel.

  4. I didn’t enjoy this one, either. And I read it…so it wasn’t just the audio experience that made it unpleasant for you, I’m sure.

    Yes…there is something missing (of Shreve’s usual style) in this one. Not one I’d recommend, either; Weight of Water and Testimony were good, and there were some others, too, that I can’t think of offhand.

  5. I think I have this in my tbr pile and it just might go to the library book sale unread. I haven’t read any reviews for it that make me want to pick it up. Maybe I’ll try one of her earlier books. Thanks for an honest review, Sheila!

  6. To weird, I just read another book review of her earlier work, 2002, forget the title already and they didn’t enjoy it. Testimony is a favourite of mine also. I am going to try Body Surfing (I think thats the title) next. I will try to remember to tell you the ones I think are great since we both enjoyed Testimony.

  7. I’m bummed to hear that you didn’t like this one. It has been sitting on my bookshelf for a while. My sister read it and thought that it was okay and I was looking forward to reading it sometime this summer. I’ll probably still give it a chance since I haven’t read anything by Shreve but know that a lot of people really love her work.

  8. Hi Sheila,
    I’ve not read this author before, and if I do, I’ll make sure this isn’t the first one I read. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great day!

    Just Books

  9. What a bummer. I have read some Shreve years ago and I remember really enjoying it. This book sounds like it had potential (I like the idea of the story) but it’s too bad it couldn’t deliver.

  10. I’ve only read one Shreve book, many years ago, and my main objection to it (don’t remember which one) was that “nothing happened” and it was just plain boring. Seems I should try others.

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