Chrysalis by Anna Metcalfe
From Random House:
This provocative, fiercely imaginative debut follows a woman trying to slip the shackles of society by controlling her body and mind in extreme ways, by one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.
“An unsettling and brilliant portrait—not just of a woman in transformation or of those who fall into her orbit, but also of a world defined simultaneously by our isolation and by our longing to connect.”—Jen Silverman, author of We Play Ourselves
It was hard to be in the present, she said, but if her body were heavier and more in control, then her thoughts would clear and her mind would recover its power.
What happens when a woman dares to take up space? An enigmatic young woman drastically transforms her body, working to become bigger, stronger, and stiller in the wake of a trauma. We see her through the eyes of three people, each differently mesmerized by her, as they reckon with the consequences of her bizarre metamorphosis. Each of them leaves us with a puzzle piece of who she was before she became someone else.
Elliot, a recluse who notices her at the gym, witnesses her physical evolution and becomes her first acolyte. Bella, her mother, worries about the intense effect her daughter’s new way of life is beginning to have on others, and she reflects on their relationship, a close cocoon from which her daughter has broken free. Susie, her ex-colleague and best friend, offers her sanctuary and support as she makes the transition to self-created online phenomenon, posting viral meditation videos that encourage her followers to join her in achieving self-sufficiency by isolating themselves from everyone else in their lives.
Uncanny, alluring, and intimate, Chrysalis raises vital questions about selfhood and solitude. This daring novel asks if it is possible for a woman to have agency over her body while remaining part of society, and then offers its own explosive answer.