It hasn’t really taken me this long to finish the book I have been reading since my last review. I finished it several days ago and started another one, with the full intention of writing a review within 24 hours. Then I did a whole bunch of fun stuff during the weekend that kept me from writing. I went running with my husband on Sunday, for the first time in a long time, pushed too hard, and ended up hurting myself. I tried walking it off on Monday and ended up making it worse, so I’ve been sort of wallowing in self-pity since then and generally being uninspired. I’m still hobbling around the house on destroyed calf muscles and an unreliable knee, but that in no way prevents me from sitting on the couch with my laptop.
This is the part where I stop feeling sorry for myself and write a review.
I found a copy of Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray sitting on the circulation desk at the library with some other new books. Judging by the jacket, it looked like a fun, light read – which is exactly what it was. It was also metaphorical and meaningful, humorous and touching. It would probably fall into the category of “chick lit,” but I thought it had plenty of substance.
The narrator of Calling Invisible Women is an everywoman character – a middle-aged wife and mother named Clover, who has slowed and then stalled her career in order to better revolve her life around her husband and [now college-aged] children. In doing so, Clover has lost sight of what it was she had planned for herself, and has allowed her personality to fade into the background, due to underuse. She exists in a rather typical scenario, in which she gives and gives to those around her, the family members who depend on her, without anyone reciprocating. No one asks her about her day, or thinks to thank her for all she does. She might as well not exist.
Clover’s life takes a turn for the unordinary when, on a day like any other, she discovers that she has somehow transitioned from metaphorical invisibility to a much more literal version. She finds no reflection of herself in the mirror, and the things she holds in her hands seem to float about on their own. When her husband and son fail to notice or react, she chalks it up to some sort of mental issue or vision problem of her own. This theory only lasts until she visits her friend Gilda, however, who finds it rather shocking that anyone could not realize that Clover has disappeared.
The premise is a bit implausible, yes, but it is executed in a way that is somehow both whimsical and ever-so-slightly satirical. It’s a lighthearted story in which no one gets seriously hurt, people discover hidden sources of strength they forgot they had, and sympathy is found in unexpected places. (Here’s a refreshing change of pace: the mother-in-law character is not a villain!) There are a few interesting twists along the way, but nothing too convoluted or contrived. It’s a feel-good novel, especially if you happen to be a woman, even more so if you’re a woman who has ever felt unappreciated. Calling Invisible Women was written by a talented, intelligent woman who understands how other smart women think. The book is full of smart women, actually, who not only support and inspire each other, but who also discover that together, they can become a force to be reckoned with.
This was a really lovely and entertaining little book. I highly recommend it. I also plan on actively seeking out more of what Jeanne Ray has to offer.