The Pandemic has brought to our lives normalcy that we have begun to view in a new light. The unprecedented became the new normal, and the normal that was, became memory and history. It brought lives together and tore some apart. Human beings realised the value of menial gestures which they wouldn’t have turned back on another day. Clearly Invisible in Paris by Koël Purie Rinchet is all about four women and how their lives have been centrifuged in the mix of despair, hope and love.
A smile was bequeathed to those humans who didn’t have the time to put a halt to the rat race. Humans who flagrantly took their lives for granted started showing gratitude. All this and more because of the Pandemic. When it hit the earth with furore, four women – Violet, Dasha, Rosel and Neera- living in the same apartment connect together with the thin thread of camaraderie, underlying need for love and consideration.
Clearly Invisible in Paris
Set in the capital of all things chic, surrounded by inexplicably irritable inhabitants, this book is an ode to the friendships that have got so many through the darkest days of their lives. In spite of living in the same apartment block in Paris, Neera, Rosel, Violet and Dasha have no idea about each other’s existence. In the grand duplex of Number Thirty-Six, the socialite Neera chain-smokes spliffs and lives a life of luxury with her director-producer husband. Many floors above, Rosel, a Filipina housekeeper-cum-nanny, dreams in her tiny attic room of becoming a French citizen and reuniting with her son.
Seventeen-year-old Russian model, Dasha, shares her cramped apartment with other women, wanting to walk the ramp for the biggest fashion moguls but settling for whoever pays the bills. And on the ground floor, Violet, a Senegalese trans woman, is a burlesque dancer at night and plays savior to a handsome beggar by day. When the whole world comes to a halt and turns upside down, the women of Number Thirty-Six go out of their arduous lives. They become the unlikeliest of friends, relying on each other to belong to this city that is insistent on alienating them. Irreverent, joyous, hilarious and passionate, with characters who seem to leap unapologetically off the page, Clearly Invisible in Paris is a celebration of the contradiction of being an outsider and belonging to the city.
The readers are to hold the reigns of their imaginations as they are up for an upsurge of literary magic. Right from the first chapter the readers are led by the characters. With their unique yet common lives and the strange relations that they nurture.
Rosel wore multiple clothing before escaping her Arab master. She is an example of pro-active presence of mind. Also, the reflection of a woman who emerged from the pit of helplessness to the one who would move mountains to have her life.
Dasha on the other hand is ambitious and knows what to do, how to do. She is street-smart and gets her work done. Neera would be your dream girl, the quintessential trophy wife who is a cooling breeze for the onlookers. Being a transwoman doesn’t hold Violet back from having what she deserves in this life.
Four women would never have a chance of coming face to face on another day. But the pandemic came like that Nazi soldiers we saw in Betrayal of Anne Frank. They aim at ending your voyage towards the dream and end up bringing the folks together with one emotion.
The diversity of life that is clearly invisible in Paris
As we move forward in the plot, we are taken to a new world that opens us to the life of Paris. The Good Morning and Good Afternoon that lack any passion to the night life in Paris – the author lays bare the struggles of women in varied strata of life. They connect with each other by one single thread of the incessant drive to attain what they manifest in their lives.
On contemplation the reader would shaken to the core to see the pain and struggle of these women but the author has effortlessly amalgamated it with the plot. The plot and narration is palpable. The characters translate the emotions which in turn communicate with the readers in ways inexplicable. The book is not an easy read because when the plot moves back and forth from one character to the other, the readers travel with them.
The author are deals with the Indian-French cultural differences and the circumstances differently and portray them without any bias. Moreover the relation between the four women are equally awkward and warm. One needs immense talent and literary finesse to pull off such oxymorons. For instance, the life of violet is equally painful and interesting. The author involves the readers with the characters so much so that their idiosyncrasies give them a definition in our minds.
Overall Clearly Invisible in Paris gives the readers a mixed bag of emotions.