Wednesday 16 August 2023

The Invisible Women's Club by Helen Paris BLOG TOUR #TheInvisibleWomensClub @drhelenparis @DoubledayUK @RandomTTours @chloerose1702 #BookReview



Seventy-something Janet Pimm is invisible. Spending most of her days alone, she tends her beloved allotment with the care and love she doesn't receive from people. Plants, Janet thinks, are more important than friends.


Janet's neighbour, Bev, has reached the age when a cloak of invisibility threatens to descend. Her friendly advances are rebuffed by Janet, but when the council threatens to close the allotments, Janet must swallow her pride and enlist Bev's help.

But they're about to prove everyone wrong.

As the two join forces, Janet realises that she isn't happy to be a wallflower after all. And that maybe there's more to Bev than she thought. As the bulldozers roll in and they fight to save Janet's treasured allotment, both women find their voice again. And no one can silence them now...

The Invisible Women's Club by Helen Paris was published on 3 August 2023 by Doubleday. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours blog tour. 

In March 2021, I read and reviewed Lost Property by Helen Paris. I adored that book so much and was so honoured to a quote from my review featured on the cover. 

I've been looking forward to reading more from this author, and certainly have not been disappointed at all by The Invisible Women's Club. She writes female characters so well, and especially the older woman, she tackles the issues that face many of us already, and that we can sadly expect to have to face throughout our lifetime. She does it with flair, and humour and with empathy, and it really is such a wonderful read. 

Janet Pimm is in her seventies. She's alone in the world, eating a cheese and tomato sandwich for lunch every single day, before setting off to tend her much-loved allotment. Although there are 120 allotments within the plot, Janet is a solitary figure who teeters on the edge of what is otherwise a tight-knit community. Janet doesn't fill her plot with pretty colourful flowers, or award-winning vegetables. She doesn't have a garden bench painted in pastel pink. Janet grows plants that have a purpose. Every single one of her crop is useful, helping every ailment that one could think about. The other allotment holders do not even notice Janet for most of the time, she feels completely invisible. 

Bev is Janet's next door neighbour, and she certainly does notice Janet. Forever putting flyers through her door, encouraging her to accompany her to locally produced plays and exhibitions. Janet is not interested, and avoid Bev as best she can. Bev also feels invisible. Menopausal, sweaty and angry, she has a great job and a lovely husband but life just feels so hard. 

These two women are eventually thrown together by an outbreak of knotweed at the allotments, some bio hazard tape and the threat of eviction. Janet worked at GCHQ for many years and to her, something just doesn't feel quite right. She is determined to get to the root cause (pardon the pun).

What follows is a beautifully structured story of a developing friendship between two unlikely allies. Janet is still brusque and straightforward, often appearing rude and quite blunt, but Bev's constant belief in her, and her motherly, caring attitude slowly wears her down, exposing a side to Janet that very few people have ever seen before, including Janet herself. 

The author deals with some very serious issues within this uplifting story, and allows her characters to be forceful and eventually successful. Their invisibility diminishes and by the end, both of them are gloriously colourful, well rounded and content people. 

A book filled with power and strength, with courage and unrelenting determination, and of course, with two incredible women who remain incredible despite their age.  Highly recommended. 

HELEN PARIS worked in the performing arts for two decades, touring internationally
with her London-based theatre company Curious. 

After several years living in San Francisco and working as a theatre professor at Stanford University, she returned to the UK to focus on writing fiction

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