Happily married, great career, mother of two. What more could a woman possibly want? Enter The Change Room, by award-winning writer Karen Connelly, and find out.
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.
KAREN CONNELLY is the author of ten books of bestselling non-fiction, fiction and poetry, the most recent being Burmese Lessons, a love story and a memoir about her experiences in Burma and on the Thai-Burma border. She has won the Pat Lowther Award for her poetry, the Governor General's Award for her non-fiction, and Britain's Orange Broadband Prize for New Writers for her first novel, The Lizard Cage. Published in 2005, The Lizard Cage was compared in the New York Times Book Review to the works of Orwell, Solzhenitsyn and Mandela, and hailed in The Globe and Mail as "one of the best modern Canadian novels." Burmese Lessons was nominated for a Governor General's Award for Non-fiction and the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-fiction in 2009. Married with a young child, she divides her time between a home in rural Greece and a home in Toronto. The author lives in Toronto, ON.
“Karen Connelly’s latest, The Change Room, is drawing big praise for its depiction of a married woman’s surprising, transformative affair. Reviews and fans affirm that the novel meets every one of my Perfect Summer Read criteria: urban, witty, funny, sexy, humane and no doubt as elegantly written as Connelly’s past works. We tend to give so much attention to debut novelists, but I love watching a writer evolve, and Connelly is building a beautiful body of work.” —Katrina Onstad, author of Everybody Has Everything and The Weekend Effect (A Writers’ Trust of Canada 2017 Summer Reading pick)
“Sexy CanLit . . . Karen Connelly’s new novel is exactly that—and as steamy as the shower scene that gets things going.” —Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
“The Change Room opens up definitions and breaks boundaries, depicting ordinary lives that turn utterly erotic. . . . [A] warm, refreshing swim on a frigid day. . . . It’s hard to write sex that isn’t too pornographic, awkward or scientific-sounding. . . . Connelly’s sex writing is detailed and frank, never embarrassing and designed, like her description of a cake’s flavour, to give pleasure. In the end many forms of sweetness run together: wine, flirtation, intimacy, friendship, nourishment, excitement, satisfaction, music, poetry.” —Liz Harmer, The Globe and Mail
“In The Change Room, Connelly is at her provocative best.” —Dave Williamson, Winnipeg Free Press
“I was blown away by Karen Connelly’s The Change Room. . . . [Connelly] knocks it outta the park with this one. . . . This is not a guy’s version of sex and this is not a Harlequin version of sex. This is real. Interspersed with doing the dishes. Well done, Karen Connelly.” —Shelley Macbeth, seller at Blue Heron Books, 49th Shelf
“Erotic. Truthful. Cunning. This is the juicy peach of a novel you’ve been longing to devour. Bless Karen Connelly for writing the life of a middle-aged woman with all the lusty bravura it deserves. I dare you to read The Change Room and not be simultaneously astonished and aroused.” —Ami McKay, author of The Witches of New York
“The Change Room is a book couples should take to bed and read out loud. Never embarrassing or lurid, always deeply arousing, the sex in this book is exquisitely written. But The Change Room offers the reader so much more than titillation. Connelly gives us a challenging view of marriage, a frank appraisal of the physical and mental exhaustion so many of us feel carrying the weight of domestic life, and a long overdue acknowledgement of our shared desire for respite. More than that, The Change Room directs our gaze to an ancient and fundamental truth: sex is sacred and if we forget this as a culture, or don’t appease this aspect of the divine within ourselves, our spirit, our relationships and our society suffers.” —Gail Anderson-Dargatz, author of The Spawning Grounds
“[A] sexy, stirring novel.” —49th Shelf
PRAISE FOR THE LIZARD CAGE:
“One of the best modern Canadian novels. . . . A masterwork of imagined identification with a character and an environment that its writer could not possibly know. When I first finished The Lizard Cage (which is so gripping that I was not distracted by extraneous thoughts until the end), I wondered how on earth Connelly was able to write such a visceral, subtle, complex book, how could she know specifics about life in prison in Myanmar, what people ate, what people did to one another, what people did in the name of the freedom to write and read.” —The Globe and Mail
“So consummate is Connelly’s skill in The Lizard Cage that such elements compel us to keep turning the pages. . . . Her writing is muscular and taut, bringing inmates and warders fully alive. Still more impressive, she avoids anything so trite as an affirmation of the human spirit in the face of injustice.” —The New York Times
“In a feat of epic vision, Karen Connelly uses her every art to tell the urgent story of what The New York Times calls ‘Myanmar, arguably the most repressive regime in the world.’ The suspense never relents. Hope is small, but it lives, strengthened by this powerful book.” —Maxine Hong Kingston, author and Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley
“The Lizard Cage is ridiculously and beautifully cinematic. . . . Connelly is an exacting writer. She burrows into scenes and surroundings and returns with startling imagery. There are great moments in the book, strung together like honed passages in a collection of poetry.” —Quill & Quire
“Connelly’s writing is fluid and well-paced, and her fictive prison world, set in the actual political hellhole that is present-day Burma, is as affecting as any UN statistical report about the conditions of life in that ruined country.” —Edmonton Journal
“The story unfolds perfectly and unaffectedly, with Connelly striking a remarkable balance in a tale that by turns delights, surprises and shocks. But even when writing of some of the darkest depths to which humanity can sink, her poet’s heart shines through; she observes with lucidity and without moralizing. . . . The resiliency of the human spirit is the beacon that informs this work.” —National Post