Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
Published May 2012 by Crown Publishers
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher
When you've been married a while, when you've been a mother a while, when you've been in the same place in your life for a long time, sometimes you begin to feel that you've become invisible to those around you.
For Clover Hobart, one day it becomes much more than just a feeling. Clover actually discovers that she has physically become invisible. As shocked as she is to discover that she can't see herself, she is even more shocked to discover that her son and husband don't notice. Almost no one, in fact, notices that there's no body there as long as a pair of pants, some shoes and a hat are making their way around. Sure being invisible comes in handy when it's time to stop her son from getting a tattoo. Otherwise, it's a sad and lonely life. Then one day, Clover answers an ad in the local paper that reads, "Calling Invisible Women." Clover discovers an entire group of women her age who are in the same predicament and these women have the answer Clover's been looking for - the reason she became invisible. Knowing who to blame gives Clover a strength she didn't know she had and a cause for which to fight.
Jeanne Ray is Ann Patchett's mother. That, in and of itself, was a selling point for me. Patchett's Bel Canto is one of my all-time favorite books and I was eager to see if Patchett had inherited her talent. Ray certainly has her own style; Calling Invisible Women is satirical, funny, and touching. Much like her daughter, Ray writes a smart book with strong female characters.
The other selling point for me was the idea of a middle-aged wife and mother not only feeling invisible but truly becoming invisible. Have you ever thought that the things you're doing around the house, for example, won't even be noticed? That your family will only notice the things that don't get done? I certainly have so I knew I could relate to Clover on that level. I liked the way Ray played with the idea that not only are these women so overlooked that they feel invisible but when they truly are invisible no one even notices. I had wondered how the idea was going to play out - would there be an actual cause or would the cause be more mystical. While I found the cause interesting and it was nice to see Clover become more visible even when she wasn't visible, I'm still not sure whether or not I liked how the plot played out. While the ending was certainly upbeat, I was glad that Ray hadn't given the book a Disney ending.
Ray is the author of several other books, including Julie and Romeo which many of you may recall. I will definitely be picking up another of them soon.