Twenty-eight-year-old Geraldine travels to Kenya with her new husband James with the intent of staying a year. In a dizzying multicultural city, she struggles to maintain her balance as well as her sense of self. Her marriage, and her understanding of the world, are shaken to the core.
Invited on a climbing expedition to Mt. Kenya, the newlyweds are caught up in a horrific accident. In its aftermath, Geraldine must try to understand exactly what happened on that mountain and what it has done to her and to her marriage.
A major author in terms of critical acclaim and bestseller status, Anita Shreve limns the secrets at the core of our closest relationships and the ways in which lives can turn on the axis of a single catastrophic event.
Shreve (Testimony), who worked in Kenya as a journalist early in her career, returns to that country in her slow latest, the story of a photojournalist and her doctor husband, whose temporary relocation abroad goes sour. The year-long research trip is an opportunity for Patrick, but leaves Margaret floundering in colonialist culture shock, feeling like "an actor in a play someone British had written for a previous generation." When a climbing trip to Mt. Kenya goes fatally wrong, Margaret's role in the tragedy drives a quiet wedge between the couple. Compounding those stressors are multiple robberies and adulterous temptations, as well as Margaret's freelance work for a "controversial" newspaper. Written in a strangely emotionless third person, the novel is stuffed with travelogues and vignettes of privileged expatriate life, including the chestnut of Margaret feeling very guilty about being given a rug she admires. While some of these moments aren't bad, the scant dramatic tension and direct-to-video plot make this a slog. (Sept.)
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Little, Brown and Company
September 22, 2009
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