In this slim comic treatise on the social status of middle-aged women, Clover Hobart disappears.
It had been happening metaphorically for a long time—her job as stealth reporter for the newspaper had slowly morphed into a weekly gardening column, her husband barely notices her and her grown children take her for granted. No one hits on her anymore. And then one morning she wakes up invisible. Her body has mass and weight, but she is shockingly see-through. When her sleepy son Nick doesn’t notice, she rushes over to her friend Gilda, who thankfully (Clover’s not crazy!) perceives that she’s not there. Strangely, or not, no one seems to notice she’s invisible—they see her clothes, hear her voice. That her head and hands are missing…well, it only reaffirms what Clover’s been feeling for a while: she’s simply disappeared. Luckily she comes upon an ad for the next meeting of invisible women at the downtown Sheraton. In the conference room Clover is met with a circle of chairs, disembodied testimonials and a shocking revelation—these women slip out of their clothes to become completely unseen, and do some rather interesting things. She also discovers that they’ve all been on the same three medications—for menopause, bone density and depression—manufactured by a big pharmaceutical, which tacitly admits something may be going on with this particular combination of drugs. With her support group, Clover begins relishing her invisibility. She’s stopped bullies at the local high school, foiled a bank robbery and prevented her son from obtaining an awful tattoo. She just wishes her husband, a good guy in all other ways, would notice. It seems there are a lot of invisible women out there, but they can’t get help unless they are heard and seen. Ray’s novel could have easily slipped into a series of jokes, but suitably she creates substantial characters for this whimsy.
Though the novel has a softer bite than the best satires (Fay Weldon’s, for one), it offers a lot of witty charm.