Anita Shreve usually does magic with her well-known, successful formula of taking one moment, one decision and showing how it can forever change a life. But in her newest book, A Change in Altitude, something falls short.
A Change in Altitude is the
story of Margaret and Patrick, young newlyweds, who set off on an adventure to live in Africa for one year. When a mountain climb goes suddenly and tragically wrong, things begin to unravel for the
The book covers the year following the actions on the mountain, and traces the efforts Margaret makes to rediscover her life and her love.
The backdrop of Africa comes through beautifully. It’s no surprise that Shreve lived in Kenya at one point. But it was hard to like or connect with Margaret at times, who seemed dull,
unattached and not invested in anything in her life — especially the things that were impacting her most.
And though I wanted the passion and love story between Margaret and Patrick to be great, like so many of the relationships Shreve writes about, sometimes it seemed these two were not in love enough
or at all.
Perhaps the real problem is that I recently finished Shreve’s absolutely incredible Testimony where the characters were so powerful — like most of Shreve’s novels — and the
story was so riveting.
On the contrary A Change in Altitude only somewhat resonated and mostly because of the African setting. I love Shreve’s work and wanted this book to take flight like my favorites (The
Pilot’s Wife, Strange Fits of Passion, Where or When and Testimony) but I was just along for the ride, which was smooth but never quite resonated like I have come to
expect from Shreve.
…out of five stars.