Author’s Own Words:
I lived in Kenya from 1975 to 1978 and worked as a deputy editor for an African magazine called Viva. I was often asked to write articles about various African people and had an opportunity to travel far and wide. I did actually climb Mt. Kenya and make it to the top, but as in all novels, the facts of my stay in Kenya formed only the barest skeleton on which to hang a story. I did have a lovely cottage in Karen, went to a Masai ceremony similar to the one described in the book, and often traveled to African family shambas for meals. I knew the expatriate community reasonably well. None of the characters in the book is based on anyone I ever knew — particularly Margaret. I have not been back to Kenya since 1978. In the beginning, I had very young children and a trip was out of the question. Later, I began to discover that the country was seldom a very safe place to visit. I remember that several years ago, I got out a Fodor’s to read about present-day Kenya: I believe the first sentence was: “Of all the countries we have ever reported on, Kenya is the most lawless.” The situation is somewhat better today, but there is still a great deal of unrest. That said, I would love to return to the country of Luo and Kikuyu, of the tea plantations that shimmered in the distance, and of the island of Lamu, an exquisite, almost mystical, place of dreams. I still remember the colors vividly, and I have fond feelings for the wonderful people I met there. In 1978, I returned to this country just a couple of months before Jomo Kenyatta died — thus ending the period of greatest stability in a country that was once thought to be the safest in Africa.
As for climbing Mt. Kenya, it was the most arduous physical endeavor of my entire life. Though the cast of characters was unlike those I have in the novel, the physical attributes of the mountain are described as I best remember them. The scree and the glacier were brutal, and I reached the top in a blizzard. I couldn’t see a thing except tiny bits of white coming at me. I’m told that the glacier can no longer be safely crossed, and that in a very few years, there will be no ice at all on the mountain. Climate change.
A Change in Altitude is about Kenya, but it is also about a marriage and what can happen to that marriage as a result of a single catastrophic moment. It’s a theme I often explore. I hope you enjoy the book.
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.
Mischance, conflict, the emotional shifts of relationships: this is familiar territory for this author, who builds the first part of the novel with a sense of expectation and a frisson of danger. The signs are ominous, any number of problems poised to derail such a mission, serious physical issues that result from the changes in altitude while climbing the mountain. Unfortunately, it is the unknown that proves the undoing of the climbers, the small emotional disturbances that remain etched in the mind, the doubts and resentments that can’t be dislodged by time.
As always, Anita tells a compelling story. The book is well written with strong characterization, a fast moving plot, and a brilliant time period and setting. One of Anita’s many gifts is the ability to create nuanced characters. I can’t say that I was overly fond of any one character in this book, but that was rather beside the point, the characters were believable and almost universally interesting. This is not a book to pick up if you must soon put it down again. It zips along and is one of those “where did that hour go?” kind of books. There is just enough history and setting here to whet your appetite to find out more. They flavor the story but never slow it down. One of Anita’s finest efforts.
NOW THE GIVEAWAY:
Hachette Book Group has genorously offered to giveaway 5 copies of this renowned book.
USA and Canada Only Please*No Po Boxes*
Date: Nov 1st – Nov 8th
Leave a comment with your info (Blog or Email-Id) to enter.
You will get an additional entry if you link this contest on your blog.
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Thankyou Hachett & Miriam for this wonderful opportunity.