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Karen Connelly

Autor(a) de The Lizard Cage

15+ Works 836 Membros 49 Críticas 3 Favorited

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Includes the name: Karen Connelly

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Obras por Karen Connelly

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Two and a half stars hesitantly rounded up to three.

I dearly wanted to enjoy The Change Room as it feels there are not many quality books about queer adult women. Unfortunately, it was a disjointed, shallow mess that never quite made clear what the author was trying to say. The concept was ripe for exploration: the complex sexualities of women in their thirties and forties, the subtle blindness of heteronormativity, the crushing burden of a wife's emotional labour, all things only very, very briefly touched on. Instead we were left with some distant musing on adulterous guilt and sexual compulsion that feels haphazard and shallow.

The main character is supposedly Eliza, a married 40-something mother to two sons and a small business owner. The other two major characters are Andrew, Eliza's 52 year old mathematician husband, and Shar, a worldly psychology student and casual sex worker in her thirties. Though the vast majority of the story is told from Eliza's point of view there are infrequent chapters from the perspectives of Shar and Andrew, and even Andrew's brother in an inexplicably placed latter chapter. The plot largely revolves around Eliza's passive dissatisfaction with the chaotic mundanity of her life and the affair she embarks on with Shar, a beautiful woman she meets in the change room showers at the local swimming pool.

The sex scenes are graphic and certainly more erotic than I'm used to reading. It managed to avoid all the sexual euphemisms and anatomically impossible cliches that I absolutely loathe, yet at the same time there was something about the sex scenes that I couldn't quite connect with. Interestingly, despite the book being entirely driven by Eliza's sexual desires, the first sex scene in the book, between Eliza and her husband Andrew, is almost entirely from his perspective. Yet the next, between Eliza and Shar, is almost entirely from Eliza's perspective, much like the majority of the book. I'm not sure if this was intended to make the audience have sympathy for Andrew, who clearly loves his wife despite the benign neglect, or to connect the reader more viscerally to Eliza's perspective and sexual appetite.

Though I never quite found myself able to connect to the relationship between Eliza and Shar, it was Eliza and Andrew's marriage that frustrated me the most. In many ways Andrew came across as a great husband, but the underlying disparity between that was infuriating. Eliza cooks, cleans, looks after the children, attends his work functions, and runs her own floral business. Andrew is frustrated by how she 'nags' him about doing his share of anything. In addition, he has a bad back so he rarely, if ever, wants sex. No thought of his wife's desires or a passing thought for how sex might work without his awkward thrusting. In that way, it's easy to relate to Eliza's sexual dissatisfaction. On the other hand, Eliza maintains that she loves Andrew and wants to remain married to him (all while carrying out an emotional and sexual affair with Shar) but I never understood why. She never seemed to think about him beyond passing guilt for cheating on him, never really thought of him fondly and was certainly never eager to spend time with him. Where was the love she was constantly saying she felt for him? It absolutely didn't come across in the text or subtext.

Likewise, Shar and Eliza's affair left me feeling cold. At first, the sexual relationship between them was understandable, given Eliza's general dissatisfaction with the lack of sexuality and sensuality in her life. But it grew and changed into a full-blown affair I was left wondering why Shar and Eliza were attracted to each other. Why any of the characters did everything wasn't really clear, they simply weren't given enough emotional depth for motivations to become clear.

Another puzzling piece of the story was the character of Andrew's brother. He is a erudite scholar, using academia to travel the world and otherwise live large. He's obnoxious and appears only at the very beginning and the very end of the book. Inexplicably, in a very, very late chapter it is revealed that he was groomed and sexually abused from the age of 11 to 15 by a female teacher. Why this was even necessary for what is otherwise a minor character that barely appears is mystifying. It didn't add to the overall theme of the story, or if it was supposed to, it didn't work so I'm left wondering what the point of including that background even was two or three chapters from the end.

All in all, The Change Room was a shoddy mess that never managed to live up to some of the concepts hinted at. I want to describe it as dispassionate, though that seems perhaps the wrong word for a novel that features so much graphic sex, but that's how I felt while reading, unable to immerse myself in the mindset of any character and instead finding them all grating and disappointingly emotionally empty.
… (mais)
xaverie | 5 outras críticas | Apr 3, 2023 |
If you're sick of animals being tortured, read about people getting tortured, and fantasize about it happening to the people it should.

However, this book is about how learning to love the torturers, Buddha's and Jesus's teachings, and how the helpless and abused can help each other in small ways.
burritapal | 21 outras críticas | Oct 23, 2022 |
Karen Connelly is a beautiful writer and if this book hadn't been so filled with sex scenes and whiny, privileged white folk, I probably would have enjoyed it immensely. But it was, so I didn't.

There were descriptive passages in here that were so well-crafted and evocative, lesser mortals might weep. But so much of it involved extramarital ecstasy that it quickly become tiresome and, truthfully, I skipped over a good part of the second half of the book and didn't feel like I missed anything. I would happily read more of Connelly's work, provided it isn't more thinly disguised erotica.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for the free review copy.
… (mais)
fionaanne | 5 outras críticas | Nov 11, 2021 |
Definitely outside of my comfort zone, but a complex and gripping read!
bucketofrhymes | 5 outras críticas | Dec 13, 2017 |



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