The Change Room

The drama! Oh, the drama. I can barely handle it.

I hate watching people’s lives unravel. Even if it’s self-inflicted. Even if it’s just a novel.

In The Change Room, Eliza Keenan doesn’t set out to blow up her family. She loves her kids. She loves her husband. And she can’t keep her hands off a woman she meets in the changing room at the local pool. They start a passionate affair.

And here’s where Eliza’s life unravels. And here’s where Karen Connelly’s novel unravels for me. Because Eliza professes, often, consistently, that she loves her family. That she loves her slightly disorganized husband, Andrew. That she loves her flower shop and her life. So either she’s a horrible liar, or she’s horribly selfish.

No one can have it all (this is one of the greatest myths of our culture), and Eliza is trying damn hard to have it all. She wants people to accept the choices she has made on their behalf. She wants her husband and her lover to accept the situation she’s created and get along, with only superficial consideration of their feelings. Nevermind her kids.

That’s the real itchy part, the way Eliza steamrolls people into accepting what she has done to them. She knows she’s in the wrong. And she wants what she wants.

Ah, humans. The things we do to each other, sometimes for no good reason at all. In that, Eliza is entirely human.

I just don’t like it.

Karen Connelly attended Events 16 (Uninhibited), 66 (Portrait of a Marriage) and 89 (The Sunday Brunch) of the 2017 Vancouver Writers Festival.

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