Thursday, April 29, 2010

A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE

BY ANITA SHREVE

ABOUT 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


ANITA SHREVE began writing fiction while working as a high school teacher. Although one of her first published stories, "Past the Island, Drifting," was awarded an O. Henry Prize in 1975, Shreve felt she couldn't make a living as a fiction writer so she became a journalist. She traveled to Africa, and spent three years in Kenya, writing articles that appeared in magazines such as Quest, US, and Newsweek. Back in the United States, she turned to raising her children and writing freelance articles for magazines. Shreve later expanded two of these articles — both published in the New York Times Magazine — into the nonfiction books Remaking Motherhood and Women Together, Women Alone. At the same time Shreve also began working on her first novel, Eden Close. With its publication in 1989, she gave up journalism for writing fiction full time, thrilled, as she says, with "the rush of freedom that I could make it up."

Since
Eden Close Anita Shreve has written eleven other novels: Strange Fits of Passion, Where or When, Resistance, The Weight of Water, The Pilot's Wife, Fortune's Rocks, The Last Time They Met, Sea Glass, All He Ever Wanted, Light on Snow, A Wedding in December and, most recently, Body Surfing. In 1998 Shreve received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction

MY REVIEW:

In Anita Shreve's newest work, now out in paperback, A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE, Margaret and Patrick have only been married a short time when they move to Kenya so that Patrick can practice medicine. His area of exper
tise is that of equatorial medicine that obviously lends itself to the area that they move to. The time period is the 1970s and Anita Shreve is at her always wonderful, narrative best as she tells of the treacherous mountain hike Margaret and Patrick make up Mount Kenya. Margaret's instincts are wary and she doesn't have good feelings about it even before they start.

They plan the climb with their landlord and his wife, Arthur and Diana, and friends of Diana's, Saartje and Willem. Margaret isn't fond of their pretentious landlord or happy when Willem begins to tell of all the possible dangers they will encounter like the physical side-effects and weather problems. They make a trial hike to get used to things and although Margaret is still uncomfortable with it, she does admit the scenery is glorious as they experience the African horizons. Their pleasure doesn't last long, however, as Margaret is attacked by fire ants that leave stings so intense that she actually has to rip off her clothing. Margaret should have taken this as an omen but instead she goes ahead with the climb.

The actual climb is hardest on Margaret and she is always the slowest in the group. You have to give her credit, I guess, but I believe I would have never have gone in the first place. One horrendous thing after another happens making it a tortuous time which ranges from political arguments, to one of their party winding up romantically interested in another, to an event so unexpected and shocking that all the rest seemed insignificant. Following the tragedy, Margaret questions herself as she thinks a small and harmless action on her part may have prompted the whole disaster.

Subsequently, Margaret tries to recover and proceed with a normal life but her life is changed forever. One thing after another seems to happen and it appears as if nothing will ever be the same, and her marriage is effected as a result. The amount of stress Margaret endures give the reader such empathy for her that they will read on if for no other reason than to see what happens to her.

Anita Shreve has given readers another wonderfully crafted story with beautifully descriptive vignettes and scenery especially in Africa. However, although you do feel sympathetic for Margaret, I myself was frustrated with her. Perhaps the time period it took place in had something to do with it, but I could not believe the relationship she had with Patrick. I found him to be difficult to like and thus it made it hard for me to care what happened to him and his relationship with Margaret. In turn, I was puzzled at how she allowed herself to be treated like she was, and how little self-respect I thought she had. I would never have taken a hike I was so set against with all those good reasons she had, let alone go and live in Kenya with him. Patrick didn't endear himself to me personally so I found it hard to care about the whole underlying theme of a woman trying to make a life for herself and her husband while she made such poor choices. I think Margaret and the other characters were well developed enough to make their parts plausible. However, when I put all the pieces together, I was sad that I didn't like the story as a whole more than I did, as I always adore Shreve's writing. This will have to be put on the bottom of the list of my favorite Anita Shreve books. But when you ask would I recommend it? Yes! I say that as I think your own views and feelings enter into how you perceive these characters and that may be in a much different way than I did. So, yes, based on all the incredible books I have loved of Anita Shreve's, and the narrative expertise she uses in this novel, I say give A CHANGE IN ALTITUDE a chance so that you may form your own opinion. It certainly will make for a great book club choice as it invites good discussion. Don't forget to check out the Reading Group Guide Questions or go here to download them yourself.

READING GROUP GUIDE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

Questions for Anita Shreve's A CHANGE OF ALTITUDE

1. How would you interpret the novel’s title? Does the concept of altitude have significance in the story beyond its literal meaning?

2. During the drive to Mt. Kenya, Margaret and Patrick talk about whether photography detaches you from the present or helps you immerse yourself in it more fully (75). In your own life, do you find that taking photographs enriches experiences or prevents you from being fully in the moment?

3. When Diana brings Adhiambo to stay with Patrick and Margaret for the night, they disagree about how best to deal with the situation. Margaret seems more concerned about Adhiambo’s emotional well-being, while Patrick focuses on her physical state. In what way do their differing perspectives reflect other aspects of their characters? Do you think Adhiambo would have been better off if Margaret and Patrick had taken her to the hospital that night?

4. Throughout the novel, Margaret is struck by the way Kenyan characters use the phrase “Just all right” (67, 189, 246, 303). How would you interpret the meaning of this phrase? Why is it so surprising to Margaret?

5. How culpable is Margaret in what happens on the mountain? To what extent does the blame fall on others involved in the climb? Should a person be held responsible for the unintended consequences of her actions (124)?

6. Is Patrick right to confront Margaret about what happened on the mountain? Margaret argues that if he loves her and intends to stay with her, he should not have told her his
opinion, while Patrick believes it is most important to be honest (125). What do you think is most important in a relationship, total honesty or sensitivity to the other’s feelings?

7. Why do you think Margaret feels so strongly about taking the photograph of the leopard? Are there parallels between this action and Diana’s behavior on the glacier? Have you ever put yourself in danger because of a momentary impulse? What do you think motivates actions of this kind?

8. What is your definition of infidelity? Does Margaret’s relationship with Rafiq constitute unfaithfulness to Patrick? Is there such a thing as emotional infidelity or is only physical cheating really cheating?

9. How much of a marriage’s success or failure do you think can be attributed to the love between husband and wife, and how much to external factors, such as jobs, finances, location, and other people? Patrick says, “I think couples need projects to keep them together” (271). Is he correct that a couple must put in effort to make their marriage work?

10. If the accident on the mountain had never occurred, do you think Margaret and Patrick’s relationship would have evolved differently? Would anything more have happened between Arthur and Margaret? Between Rafiq and Margaret?

11. Imagine Margaret and Patrick thirty years after the end of A Change in Altitude, looking back on their life in Africa. How do you think each of them would describe the trajectory of their relationship during this time?

12. Describe your response to the novel’s ending. Did you find it sad? Uplifting? Did you feel that things had worked out for the best?

OTHER RESOURCES/WEBSITES FOR THIS BOOK/AUTHOR:

AUTHOR'S ARTICLE: "A Change In Altitude"

AUTHOR'S WEBSITE

BECOME A FAN ON FACEBOOK

SUBSCRIBE TO AUTHOR NEWSLETTER



GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO VALERIE AND THE GOOD
FOLKS AT THE HACHETTE BOOK GROUP,
I HAVE THREE COPIES OF THIS
NEWLY RELEASED PAPERBACK
EDITION TO GIVEAWAY!


THE RULES:

--U.S. AND CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES, PLEASE
--INCLUDE EMAIL ADDRESS IN COMMENT
--ALL ENTRIES/COMMENTS MUST BE
SEPARATE IN ORDER TO COUNT
AS MORE THAN ONE ENTRY



HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ABOUT THIS STORY FROM THE SYNOPSIS OR REVIEW THAT IS WRITTEN ABOVE.

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND LEAVE A LINK I CAN FOLLOW IN THE ENTRY

+1 MORE ENTRY:
COMMENT ON IF YOU ARE A GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT FOLLOWER. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO FOLLOW BUT AM ONLY LOOKING FOR CURRENT OR NEW GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT FOLLOWERS AT THIS TIME
GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, MAY 21
(Note date extended)

74 comments:

Bethie said...

+1 I follow in gfc.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Bethie said...

Please enter me. I love Anita Shreve. I find it interesting when a story takes place in Africa. The difference in the culture there is facinating.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Teresa said...

I haven't read any of Shreve's work yet, but am interested in doing so. This one interests me becuase of the marriage dynamic and how different things can affect a marriage.

I am a follwer via Google Friend Connect.

Kristin said...

I did not that Anita Shreve has also written two nonfiction books.

Please enter me in your contest.
k2reader@gmail.com

Kristin said...

+1 - I am a good friends follower!

k2reader@gmail.com

traveler said...

I have read several of this author's books and they have been enjoyable and unique.The relationsip aspect is interesting. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

I am a follower,

Bill ;-)

billsmith2003 (at) gmail (dot) com

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:
http://drbillsbookbazaar.blogspot.com/2010/04/book-giveaway-moonlight-falls.html
http://thehomeplaceseries.blogspot.com/

Mary said...

I find it interesting that you didn't really like the story but would still recommend reading the book because of the author's writing. That's enough to make me want to read it!

meah56 at gmail dot com

Mary said...

I'm a current Google friend connect follower :)

meah56 at gmail dot com

Mary said...

Blogged in my sidebar giveaways:
http://bookfan-mary.blogspot.com

meah56 at gmail dot com

Bonnie said...

I am a current GFC follower.

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Bonnie said...

I find it interesting that Margaret didn't follow her instincts and her fears were correct.

redladysreadingroomATgmailDOTcom

Linda Kish said...

GFC follower

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Linda Kish said...

I am fascinated by all things Africa.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Beverly said...

Please enter me in the contest - this looks like a great book! I am a follower.

bevsharp@desch.org

Colleen Turner said...

I am a google friend connect follower!
candc320@gmail.com

Colleen Turner said...

I love how this book places the same issues we have day to day (marriage difficulties, feeling disconnected from those around you, etc.) in a new and interesting climate. You have to wonder if this couple would have gone through the same issues eventually anyways, even without the new and strange surrounding.
Thanks,
candc320@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that you as a reviewer would reccommend a book that is only okay, but would say go ahead and read it due to the writing style and how good her past works were. I don't fault you for it, I have done the same thing myself. I would still like to read it though.
debp
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

I am a new follower.
debp
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Tore said...

I find it very interesting that author wrote stuff while a school teacher and also I am very interested in the story taking place in Africa. Please enter me in contest. Tore923@aol.com

By Book or By Crook said...

I am a GFC follower

aksimmo at brainerd dot net

By Book or By Crook said...

I love stories of adventure and stories of tragedy. Please enter me!

aksimmo at brainerd dot net

dor said...

follow .....dor

dorcontest at gmail dot com

dor said...

Sounds like more than changes in attitude. I would love to read the struggles this lady goes through.

dorcontest at gmail dot com

Pam said...

follower

melacan at hotmail dot com

Pam said...

I've heard such great things about this book. In fact, a friend of mine said that she's spent time in Kenya and found the descriptions to be accurate.

melacan at hotmail dot com

Kitty said...

I lived and worked in Kenya so anything w/Kenya is a good read for me.

Christine H said...

I'm a GFC follower

chirth7@yahoo.com

Christine H said...

I usually prefer to read books that are mostly what I call "Happy". The tragedy in this book is something I'm not use to reading, but I'd like to give it a try. ALso Kenya is a place I've never read about. I'm intrigued to see how this tragedy affects the couple.

Christine H said...

Tweet: https://twitter.com/Romantic73/status/13251456047

chirth7@yahoo.com

Charleydog said...

I have been hooked on Anita Shreve's books since I read "The Pilot's Wife." A strain of infidelity, man/woman conflict runs through all of her books, and is evidenced in "A Change in Altitude" also.

Please enter my name.

pboylecharley AT hotmail DOT com

rubynreba said...

I follow on GFC
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I haven't read any of her books yet and this looks good. The setting in Africa should make it very interesting.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

bison61 said...

I like that the book is set in Africa and the relationships of married couples will be interesting

tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

Renee said...

I am a google friend follower

reneesuz82(at)msn(dot)com

Renee said...

I like that the book is set in Africa - not a common setting for fiction

reneesuz82(at)msn(dot)com

Wise Owl, Editor said...

I am a folllower and I would love to win the Book Thief.

wiseowlreviews@aol.com

MRWriter said...

I'm fascinated by the location and the time period of this novel.

AlexDean03@yahoo.com

MRWriter said...

I follow you on Google Connect as MRWriter.

AlexDean03@yahoo.com

409cope said...

I follow through google friend.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

409cope said...

I love thAt the book is set in Africa and I like the triumph over diversity.cardshark42(at)hotmail(dot)com

enyl said...

My attention was captured by the fact that you place A Change In Atltitude at the bottom of the author's pile of accomplishment; yet,you still recommend it as good reading.
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

enyl said...

Tweeted.
twitter.com@enylstil#change
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

enyl said...

GFC follower.
enyl(at)inbox(dot)com

Colleen Turner said...

I am glad I became a BOOKIN' WITH BINGO II FB fan!
candc320@gmail.com

Wise Owl, Editor said...

I am a folllower and I would love to win a book about mountain climibing.

wiseowlreviews@aol dot com

CherylS22 said...

I found it really interesting that this book is set in Kenya. I have never read a book set in this country & would love to learn more about it.

Thanks ~ megalon22 at yahoo dot com

CherylS22 said...

I am glad I became a BOOKIN' WITH BINGO II FB fan
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

CherylS22 said...

Current GFC follower
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

Misusedinnocence said...

I follow on gfc/blogger.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Misusedinnocence said...

This sounds wonderful. I have always loved Anita Shreve's books, and this one sounds like it'll be up there with the others I've read. She's a great author and I really have never been dissapointed. The plot sounds great in this.
misusedinnocence@aol.com

Little Tesoro said...

I"m a new friend connect blog follower too :)

Lisa.2713 at gmail dot com

Little Tesoro said...

I would love to be entered in your giveaway. I am a big fan of Anita Shreve and I find it interesting that it takes place in Kenya.

Lisa.2713 at gmail dot com

Shannon said...

The location is very interesting.

tiredwkids at live dot com

Kristen said...

I like that it says it has "emotional intensity" because I like that in a book!

couponboss at gmail dot com

Beverly said...

I follow via google reader

beachlover20855[AT]yahoo[DOT]com

Beverly said...

I like that this book is set in Kenya. I enjoy a storyline set in a place I have not visited. I am looking forward to reading the location description.

beachlover20855[AT]yahoo{DOT]com

Kim said...

blog follower

Kim said...

I am most interested in the exotic scenery!!

Amy said...

I find it very interesting that Margaret agrees to make the climb up Mount Kenya, a difficult, frightening & dangerous trek, though it is something she really doesn't want to do. I'm quite intrigued about this book now! Please enter me in the giveaway!

~ Amy
Aimala127@gmail.com

Amy said...

I am a Google Friend Connect follower!


Aimala127@gmail.com

holdenj said...

I am a loyal Google Friend Connect follower.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

I think it's interesting that it's set in Kenya.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Shirley said...

I'm intriqed by this book, that fact it's based in Kenya. I've nmever read a book that was placed there.

shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

I'm an old GCF.

shundelt@yahoo.com

Shirley said...

http://twitter.com/Grandmamaof10/status/14167020352

shundelt@yahoo.com

Arch said...

Please enter me for this giveaway. I have been having this book in my TBR list for a while now. Being newly wed myself, I would like to read about the marriage dynamics portrayed in this book. Also I have always been wanting to visit Kenya and go on a safari thru Masai Mara and thats one more reason I would love to read this book!!

archanaskorner(at)gmail(dot)com

- arch

MarionG said...

I'm a follower on GFC as MarionG.
polo-puppy-fluffy[at]hotmail[dot]com

MarionG said...

Hi. I found it interesting Shreve's lived in Kenya. The premise of a women doing everything for and accommodating their husband is something I see even today. It's hard for me to understand but I consistently see it in women who are immigrants and have little self-confidence. I find it a believable premise for a story set in the 70's.
polo-puppy-fluffy[at]hotmail[dot]com

Jolee said...

gfc follower
joleehamlin at comcast dot net

Jolee said...

The aftermath of living with a tragedy is something I can relate to at the moment, and it sound cathertic and intriguing. joleehamlin at comcast dot net

Debi said...

I am most interested in the group dynamics as well as the relationship between husband and wife. Please enter me in your wonderful giveaway.

debraldufek AT hotmail DOT com

LAMusing said...

I love that it's set in Kenya. And I'm a real fan of Shreve's other work.

adrianecoros(at)gmail.com

LAMusing said...

I follow on GFC

adrianecoros(at)gmail.com

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