Chrysalis by Anna Metcalfe - review by Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell

Divine Wellness



Granta Books 304pp £14.99

The central character in Chrysalis, Anna Metcalfe’s debut novel, is an unnamed young legal trainee whose breakup with a psychologically abusive boyfriend has forced her to move out of the flat they shared, sparking a mental and physical transformation. In the months that follow, she stays with each of the novel’s three narrators, undergoing a metamorphosis that will see her emerge eventually as a wellness influencer.

Elliot watches her at the gym, intrigued by her concentration. He admits, after she has left his house, that he fell in love with her, though for her their relationship was simply a phase in a broader psychological transformation. The protagonist’s mother traces her daughter’s self-serving impulses from childhood, painting a picture of a young woman whose vulnerability can quickly give way to manipulative behaviour. Susie, a former colleague, becomes obsessed with her when she moves in and then struggles to ground her identity again after she has been abandoned.

Metcalfe keeps us within the heads of these three narrators, making it difficult to see the central character beyond what they want to see of her. Their narrations are filled with what sound like takeaways from a self-care conference: ‘But I had remembered how to be vulnerable, and

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