The Very Visible Jeanne Ray's Latest Novel: Review and Giveaway

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jeanne Ray's been around long enough that Calling Invisible Women: A Novel might seem slightly autobiographical. Ray wrote her first novel at sixty-years-old and there is no stopping her now. Calling Invisible Women is Ray's fifth, after Julie and Romeo Get Lucky, Eat Cake, Step-Ball-Change, and her New York Times bestselling work Julie and Romeo.

Just like Ray, Clover Hobart is not willing to let a little bit of age—or, in Clover's case age and invisibility—get in her way to become a source of inspiration to those around her. Well, at first Clover is a little hesitant about her invisibility, but who wouldn't be? She's a fifty-ish mother of two who has been feeling a little invisible since she stopped being a reporter (she's downgraded now and simply writes the newspaper's gardening column) to take care of her family.

Besides the gardening column and figuring out how to re-use poinsettias, her unemployed son, Nick, has returned to the family nest and her doctor husband, Arthur, has a busy practice. This pair keeps Clover seemingly in domestic handcuffs. While Evie, her overly dramatic daughter, is busy at college until heartbreak hits and she, too, heads home.

Clover's story seems like an imperfect, everyday suburban tale. It's nothing out of the ordinary. Imperfect and ordinary, until Clover wakes up one morning and can't see herself. But Nick and Arthur don't seem to notice. For. Weeks. Gilda, Clover's next-door neighbor and best friend, and her mother-in-law notice, but then they always notice everything, don't they?

Clover can keep filing her newspaper column and keep the family running, even as an invisible person. Then, one day she notices a want ad "Calling Invisible Women" and Clover knows that she is not alone. And, although it is tricky to find another invisible woman, Clover manages to find them and Clover starts to learn how she ended up invisible. But they also teach Clover a more important lesson: how to live as an invisible woman. In turn, Clover's ability to deal with her invisibility helps to drive her to become more visible, in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways.

Ray does a believable job of showing Clover among others—those who can see her and those who can't. As Clover becomes more comfortable in her invisible skin, she can take on all kinds of jobs and chores—even snooping on husbands or kids who might be up to no good.

Clover starts connecting and learning from the group of invisible women, which gives them all the support mechanism they need to re-enter society as teachers and nurses and reporters. Clover is challenged in many ways she never thought possible and along the way, she becomes a source of inspiration, albeit invisible.

Even if not familiar with Ray's other works, Calling Invisible Women is approachable. Sure, it's hard to imagine how the invisibility concept may work, in practice, Ray may have been smiling when she wrote it. But, yes, she brings her readers in on the jokes, which makes Calling Invisible Women a fun summer read.


We also have a giveaway from the publisher! Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win a hard-cover print copy of Calling Invisible Women: A Novel (list price: $24). If you have problems using Rafflecopter, be sure you are running the latest version of your web browser and have javascript updated. Please also leave a comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked. By entering you agree to the rules of the contest. Good luck!


BECKY said...

Oh, I love Jeanne Ray's books! I'm leaving my comment first, and then will enter the contest! Thanks so much for a great post and giveaway!

BECKY said...

The main book I'm reading this summer is "Naked, Drunk, and Writing" by Adair Lara. It's a fantastic book on craft. And of course, I'll be reading "Calling Invisible Women," after I win it here!! :D

Rita A. said...

Sounds like a fun book. I often feel invisible and that concept is very intriguing.

Joanie said...

This is a great contest for a terrific author. She's been one of my favorites for years. Love Julie and Romeo


Margo Dill said...

First novel at 60?? I love stories like this. It is a very inspirational week here at WOW! with trips to Italy and successful authors at any age!! :) Great review, BTW!

Joanie said...

This is a great contest for a terrific author. She's been one of my favorites for years. Love Julie and Romeo


Anonymous said...

Ms. Ray's latest novel sounds fascinating and seems to have touched on some themes I've been struggling with, in my own WIP--and, heck, my own life. I'd love to have the chance to read it. Thanks for the op, WOW! ~Leigh~

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I'm doing this Rafflecopter thing correctly, but I have a smorgasbord of books (and magazines) from which I'm sampling bits this summer, including several running books, _Scribble, Scribble_ by Simon Schama (sp), a humor book my husband got me that I'm forgetting the title of, Christina Katz's _Writer Mama_, et al. ~Leigh [wordsmithery [at] frontier [dot] com]~

Kristen Klamer said...

Reading some Amelia-Atwater Rhodes and more John Grisham. :)

randi oaklief said...

right now I'm reading Porch Lights, Dorothea Benton Fran's newest & I also have Wendy Wax's newest.

Unknown said...

I'm reading the Michael Scott YA Alchemyst series, and a few memoirs - Jenny Lawson's "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" is up next.

DShope said...

I'm reading Horten's Incredible Illusions by Lisa Evans.

kat said...

I hope to start on Written in The Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt.

Ruth Cox aka abitosunshine said...

I have a mile-long TBR list but for now I just finished reading Growing Up In Boom Times, about to finish Horses Who Eat Potatoes: And Other Truer-than-life Stories of "The Other Family Doctor", and also reading Revenge of the Vegetarian. Calling Invisible Women would fit right in to my eclectic mix!

shanta s said...

I would play tricks on my husband and children :)

shanta s said...

I don't read much, but i did read 50 shades

Lisa said...

I am reading the Pretty Little Liars series

Trisha McKee said...

Books by Anita Shreve

tridingermckee at gmail dot com

AEKZ2 said...

I'm reading The Priest's Graveyard

WOW! said...

Oh my gosh! Thank you for all your entries. :) We randomly picked a winner through Rafflecopter, and the winner is Diana S.! I will send you an e-mail asking for your mailing address. Please respond within 48 hours or we will choose another winner. The e-mail will be coming from editors[at]

Okay, I HAVE to share this with you all because you were all so creative with your answers! We asked contestants: If you were invisible, what would you do?

The answers were so funny! We had many people who wanted to spy and play tricks on their family members and spy on their friends. Here are some of my favorites:

"I'd stow away and go all over the world... Delphi first!"

"I would go in my bosses office and watch what he does all day. I don't think he does anything but stare at the wall."

"I would finally be in on all of the gossip. Of course, that would get boring so I guess I'd have to sit in on some important talks, political probably."

"I would love to go to Washington DC and see really what all the politicians do on a work day."

"I would walk through the White House being nosey!"

"Dance naked."

"I would definitely go in bookstores and spend all day without buying anything!"

[Editor's note: Have you been to Barnes & Noble? There are people there who must think they are invisible! LOL]

"All those times I've wished I was a fly on the wall when something was going on would come to fruition. Although it is totally unlike me, I would probably play tricks on some people."

"I would go to people's houses and knock things over, turn their lights off and on, and just try to really freak them out."

"Hang out at the library and move books between the shelves."

"Definitely eavesdrop! Can't help it, I love that suff. :)"

"I'd go check out a new movie."

"Go to theme parks for free and cut in line."

"Go to Target."

"First, I would try to find out if my dog, Vern, could 'see' me and I'd try to communicate with him. I'd love to know what he thinks. Then I'd eavesdrop on all kinds of people at restaurants to see what they talk about. I wouldn't do any 'bedroom' spying. That's not who I am. I'm interested in listening and observing people...but not any carnal knowledge! (Thanks! That WAS a fun question!)"

"Sneak backstage during concerts."

"Sit in on a James Taylor 'practice' session."

"You presuppose that I'm not invisible when in fact I am already!"

"Come into your house and scare you."

[Ed's note: Okay, that was a bit creepy!]

"I couldn't do anything--my dogs would give me away."

"No doubt about it, I would give women living in domestic violence a push out the door!"

"Rob a bank."

"I would go skinny dipping at the beach, just cause I could!"

"Honestly? Infiltrate the Vatican."


Great stuff! There were so many wonderful answers. Thanks for participating! :)

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