Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Change Room by Karen Connelly

4.5 Star

Eliza Keenan is the mother of two young sons, the owner of a flower studio that caters to the city's elite, and the loving wife of a deliciously rumpled math professor named Andrew. She's on the move from dawn until her boys are in bed, and after they're asleep she cleans her house. Her one complaint about her life is that the only time she has for herself is her twice-weekly swim in the local community centre pool, where sunlight shines in through a tall window and lights up the water in a way that reminds her of the year she spent as a footloose youth on an island in Greece. Then one morning into this life that is full of satisfactions of all kinds except sexual (because who has the time or the energy once the kids are asleep?) comes a tall, dark and lovely stranger, a young woman Eliza encounters at the pool and nicknames 'the Amazon.' The sight of this woman, naked in the change room, completely undoes Eliza, and soon the two of them are entangled in an affair that breaks all the rules, and threatens to capsize not only Eliza and her happy family, but her lover's world, too. And yet the sex is so all-encompassing, so intimate, so true...how can it be bad? Be ready to be shaken up, woken up, scandalized and deeply stirred.

Kathryn - 4.5 Star

I eyed  this book for a while before requesting it for review. The cover kept drawing me back though something about the blurb had me worried that the story would either be too trite or too high brow.  In the end I asked to read it because of the plot synopsis...I was intrigued!

I needn't have worried- I had no trouble relating to Eliza and fell into step with her chaotic life of motherhood, business and marriage. I followed her through her exercise plan, her moments that were just her own and was unsurprised at what felt like a natural first liaison with "the amazon" in the pool change room. The sexual nature of the story, though intense and explicit, does delve into a much more common set of problems faced in marriage and in many relationships. The lack of nurturing (physical or mental)  will allow for discontent and eventual discord. 

I wished that Eliza's trip to Greece had been given more than a passing glance- it felt as if it had more of an effect on her than the novel allowed and that it could have rounded out her character a bit more to have that part of her life more voice.  I was also frustrated by Andrew's brother and parents (mostly mother)- they didn't do much for me or the plot except to add an element of tension in Andrew and Eliza's marriage and they filled me with something close to rage I'm afraid.

I easily accepted all the couple combinations though and felt that each of them was the right fit in their own way. Their meeting and merging was interesting and in the end I'm not convinced I was satisfied with the outcome for any of them- I suppose it couldn't end up perfectly for everyone in the end?

Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for our review copy.  All opinions are our own.

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