Author: Karen Connelly
Genre: Women's Literature, LGBT
Rating: 3 out of 5
Let's start with things to know about The Change Room:
1) Sex: there is a lot of it; and not just alluded to but described in beautiful detail
2) LGBT: we have wonderful lesbian characters
3) Sex trade: is a focal point, but seen in a practical, loving way
4) Adultery: is the main theme and focus
5) Ending: it just stops. Right at the moment where things were the most interesting!!
6) The main character is obsessed with having babies. To the point of utter annoyance to me (as someone whose mid-30s with no children and zero plans for any this was super frustrating).
7) There are rape and molestation flashbacks
The Change Room read quickly for me. Karen Connelly definitely knows how to write a compelling, forward moving story. At no point was I bored. This is not a traditional romance novel even though it has many descriptive sex scenes. It's really more of a literature piece.
Set in Canada, and with many references to my home town (Calgary) I loved the descriptions and settings used. (Side note: I've lived in Alberta my whole life and never ever heard the 'Alberta curse' phrase she uses)
It's obvious that Connelly either did a lot of research on Greece and political matters as all the political and socio-economic things happening in the world in this book happened in real life. I found this refreshing. While not necessarily relevant to our main story it lent credibility to the overall text and I'm sure an English literature professor could find a hundred ways it relates to the story.
The focus of Change Room is a married woman whom has two children, a content husband, and an 'average' life that many readers can likely relate to. But she's not really happy. Something is missing... in walks a gorgeous lady to the swimming pool one day and so begins an affair that changes everything in her life.
Overall this book is intriguing, handles the subject matter really well and intelligently sheds light into a number of situations and scenarios society doesn't like to talk about (see list above) . It's very realistic and handles all its sensitive subject matter quite well.
The reason for my 3-star review, given all these factors, is that just as the book feels like it's at a pinnacle moment that I'm dying to know how plays out, it ends!!!
Yes it's an ending where you know what's about to be said and can decide how it plays out for yourself. However I just wanted way more! Normally wanting more would leave me with a high review and excitement. But in this case I felt so invested in the characters and their situations that I can't believe it ended!
Maybe that's unfair... maybe there are tons of philosophical reasons why this ending is perfect. For me it was a huge let down and makes me frustrated as a whole with The Change Room and the investment of time I put into it. It's possible in a few days I'll feel differently but for right now it just felt like Connelly didn't want to decide how it ended and that feels cheap to me.
I would recommend this book for anyone that wants a different perspective on the sex trade, affairs, lesbianism and suburban family life.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review. Don't believe me? Check out the other books I've had eARCs for that I gave good or bad reviews to. I always give my opinion whether good or bad.