A Change in Altitude

Version: Unabridged
Author: Anita Shreve
Narrator: Anna Stone
Genres: Fiction & Literature
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published In: May 2010
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 9 hours
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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.

Reviews (3)

great imagery of Africa, otherwise it left me cold

Written by Angie Teal on October 15th, 2019

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Rating the book was hard, because I want to give it five stars for the very vivid description of Africa in the 1970, told from the point of view of american expats. You meet many other expats and especially the british expats are giving the impression that colonialism is still alive and well even in the 70s. As far as the characters and the story I would give it only two stars. Margaret is a a surprisingly weak and remote main character and her husband comes across as uncaring,remote and cold. Why they married baffles me there seems to be no love between them. Other characters are unlikable too, except for the African \'servants\' and Rafique the reporter friend. The story line is weird, especially the big catastrophic event on the first climb. Shreve did not manage to make me understand how all the characters reacted to the accident. The end was abrupt and left everything open, I had to listen twice to make sure I really didn\'t miss anything.


Written by KDV on March 11th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This was a good "read" - the author took one into the main character's mind and emotions very well and the description of the mountain was compelling. The vague ending was surprising but perhaps it was the only possible one.

Not that good

Written by Anonymous on December 12th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 2/5

The story is fair. It is not Schreve's best. The narrator's voice is all wrong for this story.

Author Details

Author Details

Shreve, Anita

For many readers, the appeal of Anita Shreve’s novels is their ability to combine all of the escapist elements of a good beach read with the kind of thoughtful complexity not generally associated with romantic fiction. Shreve’s books are loaded with enough adultery, eroticism, and passion to make anyone keep flipping the pages, but the writer whom People magazine once dubbed a “master storyteller” is also concerned with the complexities of her characters’ motivations, relationships, and lives.

Shreve’s novels draw on her diverse experiences as a teacher and journalist: she began writing fiction while teaching high school, and was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1975 for her story, “Past the Island, Drifting.” She then spent several years working as a journalist in Africa, and later returned to the States to raise her children. In the 1980s, she wrote about women’s issues, which resulted in two nonfiction books -- Remaking Motherhood and Women Together, Women Alone -- before breaking into mainstream fiction with Eden Close in 1989.

This interest in women’s lives -- their struggles and success, families and friendships -- informs all of Shreve’s fiction. The combination of her journalist’s eye for detail and her literary ear for the telling turn of phrase mean that Shreve can spin a story that is dense, atmospheric, and believable. Shreve incorporates the pull of the sea -- the inexorable tides, the unpredictable surf -- into her characters’ lives the way Willa Cather worked the beauty and wildness of the Midwestern plains into her fiction. In Fortune’s Rocks and The Weight of Water, the sea becomes a character itself, evocative and ultimately consuming. In Sea Glass, Shreve takes the metaphor as far as she can, where characters are tested again and again, only to emerge stronger by surviving the ravages of life.

A domestic sensualist, Shreve makes use of the emblems of household life to a high degree, letting a home tell its stories just as much as its inhabitants do, and even recycling the same house through different books and periods of time, giving it a sort of palimpsest effect, in which old stories burn through the newer ones, creating a historical montage. "A house with any kind of age will have dozens of stories to tell," she says. "I suppose if a novelist could live long enough, one could base an entire oeuvre on the lives that weave in and out of an antique house."

Shreve’s work is sometimes categorized as “women’s fiction,” because of her focus on women’s sensibilties and plights. But her evocative and precise language and imagery take her beyond category fiction, and moderate the vein of sentimentality which threads through her books. Moreover, her kaleidoscopic view of history, her iron grip on the details and detritus of 19th-century life (which she sometimes intersperses with a 20th-century story), and her uncanny ability to replicate 19th-century dialogue without sounding fusty or fussy, make for novels that that are always absorbing and often riveting. If she has a flaw, it is that her imagery is sometimes too cinematic, but one can hardly fault her for that: after all, the call of Hollywood is surely as strong as the call of the sea for a writer as talented as Shreve.