Shortly after their wedding in the late 197os, Patrick and Margaret travel to Africa, where
Patrick, a young doctor, will work in research at a local hospital. Margaret is a photographer,
who is fascinated with the country and the people. They become friends with an English couple,
Arthur and Diana, and rent a cottage on their property. The new friends plan a trip along with
a third couple, to climb Mt. Kenya. After extensive planning, they embark on the adventure. Their
relationship with their new friends is filled with surprises, and Arthur seems to pay too much
attention to Margaret, changing the entire dynamic of their friendship, and even Margaret and
Patrick's marriage. Diana's jealously causes her to make a foolish mistake in crossing the
glacier, ending in tragedy.
The conflicting emotions pull Margaret and Patrick in different directions. Patrick is busy
traveling to outlying clinics and totally absorbed in his research, while Margaret explores the
beauty and complexity of Africa and its people. Their marriage weakens and moves ever closer to
Margaret goes to work for a local newspaper. Excited by her new job, Margaret, in trying to
learn about local customs, befriends some local residents, including a local girl who lives in
poverty and was the victim of a vicious attack. Beyond understanding, Margaret finds herself drawn
to the handsome Rafiq, a reporter whom she is working with at the newspaper. Government corruption
and Rafiq's efforts to expose it are his undoing, and Margaret is nearly caught up in the aftermath
of his disgrace and deportation.
Shreve is a master at characterization and plotting, and at the top of her form in this tale
of Africa and the emotional turmoil of two people in a foreign setting, wondering if their love
for each other can survive. Margaret has a surprising solution to that question.
This is my first Anita Shreve novel, but I can assure you, it will not be my last. It was a
mesmerizing story that I hated to see end.