Saturday, May 26, 2012
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
Clover Hobart was brushing her teeth when she noticed she was invisible. She couldn't see herself in the mirror, but her son and husband still talked to her. They might have looked right through her as they ate with her, or asked her to run errands, but they never noticed she was invisible. She was inclined to chalk it up to her husband's busy life as a pediatrician, and her son's anxiety about getting a job. She didn't want to admit they had stopped seeing her years earlier when she went from being a reporter to a woman who worked from home, writing a gardening column while handling all the chores around the house. Then her best friend, Gilda, was brutally honest with her. "It's just the plight of women after a certain age. No one can see you."
When a small ad in the newspaper caught Clover's eye, she learned there was an entire group of invisible women who met regularly at a nearby hotel. They were women who had gone through menopause, took medication to avoid osteoporosis, maybe an anti-depressant. Oh, and they might have tried Botox at one time or another. Invisible women. Meeting those women, along with advice from her mother-in-law, freed Clover. She found ways to use her invisibility to her advantage. When Clover started to feel more powerful and less inhibited, she discovered new ways for women to be recognized. Her own family might not notice she was invisible, but Clover Hobart was going to stand up and help other invisible women prove they were still important, and they still could make a difference in the world.
All of Jeanne Ray's books have some bittersweet moments. But they also have wonderful strong women at the heart of the stories. The dry quiet humor is marvelous. Imagine being invisible and not having to deal with security at the airports. Ray shows us airports, secure companies, schools, a doctor's office, and businesses, all through the eyes of a woman who is invisible. And, she shows us the heartwarming moments when someone recognizes the woman is invisible. There's pain, a sense of loss, bittersweet moments. Clover's mother-in-law, Irene, points out that she's gained a new perspective on everything, including her own life. There's so much wisdom and warmth in this book. Calling Invisible Women is a cautionary tale. At the same time, it's a story of women's strength, and a story of triumph and love.
Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray. Crown Publishers. 2012. ISBN 9780307395054 (hardcover), 246p.
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