Sunday, July 29, 2012

Calling Invisible Women, by Jeanne Ray

Clover Hobart is a middle-aged, underemployed journalist with a busy and distracted pediatrician husband, a    daughter who is a cheerleader at Ohio State, and a son who is two years out of college, unemployed, and depressed. When she suddenly becomes invisible, her family does not notice; of her acquaintances, only her friend and neighbor Glinda immediately sees what has happened. Clover experiences an array of emotions from fear to anger to sadness. But when she sees a notice inviting invisible women to a meeting, she finds the knowledge that others are similarly afflicted bracing and the friendship of the other invisible women invaluable. Indeed, she finds herself suddenly more courageous than ever before--thwarting crimes and scaring high school students into behaving well. She spends a day at her husband's office, for the first time realizing the pressures he faced in his work and the ways in which he coped with those problems. Through the invisible women, she also learns that the invisibility is due to a drug interaction involving several drugs commonly prescribed to menopausal women. She and her friends decide to take on the pharmaceutical company that makes the popular medications. 

I have enjoyed Jeanne Ray's previous books--they're not as deep or serious as the literary works that her daughter Ann Patchett writes, but the characters and their relationships are realistically multidimensional and the plots entertaining. As an author, Ray evinces humor and warmth. Calling Invisible Women has both, but it is a more political than her earlier works, and the theme involving the drug company is not as well developed as the aspects of the story that deal with Clover's family and her own struggle to be visible, both physically and metaphorically. The ending is also anticlimactic--I was listening to the Audible version, and was shocked when I looked down and saw there were only five minutes left and things were just heating up. Essentially, those five minutes were: "This, this, and this happened; the end."

If you're looking for a light read and haven't read Jeanne Ray's other books, I'd recommend starting with one of them--but Calling Invisible Women is still an enjoyable beach read.

Favorite passage:
Year after month and week after day, we have come back to each other. We would know each other's bodies blind. 

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