Published by Titan Books on October 6, 2020
Genres: Fiction, General
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever-and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.
Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.
But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.
In the vein of The Time Traveler's Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab's #1 New York Times Bestselling Author genre-defying tour de force.
As a huge V.E. Schwab fan, I have been eagerly awaiting The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. It tells the story of Addie LaRue, who lives in 18th Century France, who makes a deal with the devil to live forever in exchange for her soul. As with any bargain however, there’s a downside – no one can remember Addie, and she can’t leave a mark on the world.
A deal with the devil
The beginning is absolutely fantastic as we learn about Addie’s early life and her sheer wanting to escape the small country town she lives in. She doesn’t want to be wed to just another husband, so her desperation drives her to make the pact, that will be the defining moment throughout the rest of her life.
Over the next 300 years, we learn about what Addie makes of her life as she makes her way through France, Paris, and finally to New York City. On the anniversary of their pact, Luc asks Addie if she would surrender after living a life that no one remembers. Although these moments are predictable, especially towards the latter half of the novel, they serve as a defining point between moments in her life.
Life is long and humans are boring. You are better company.
An unforgettable muse
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Addie and Luc – although he’s technically a demon that has a hold over her, there is a darkly intriguing power struggle between them. Addie constantly learns to swindle her way out of her circumstances, and he likes to prove that he has the upper hand. I found an undeniable, complex chemistry between them, even from their first meet – and she serves as a deeply intriguing, yet fascinating source of frustration for Luc.
Although Addie is cursed with being forgettable, she’s the most unforgettable person you would ever meet. Along with being intelligent, cunning and completely vivacious, she becomes a muse for artists and musicians everywhere. There is a beautiful homage to the arts in Addie LaRue, with some artwork sprinkled throughout the chapters, and the writing is incredibly poetic. Although it’s a long book, it just felt like such a joy to read.
Ideas are wilder than memories. And I can be wild. I can be stubborn as the weeds, and you will not root me out.
Living through 300 years
As we follow Addie throughout her life, she meets a variety of men, few which leave their mark on her. I loved seeing the versions of events from different points in history. My favourite Addie is when she discovers that dressing in male clothing is incredibly freeing and empowering, which definitely gave me Lila Bard vibes from A Darker Shade of Magic. Although these historical moments are plentiful, I couldn’t help but feel a glaring ommission between points in history and how they were kind of swept over. Addie’s involvement in these events are alluded to many times, but shown much less, and the book itself feels very condensed to just the character. Despite the 300 years it covers, it is a very insular book because of this.
Leading to where most of the book lies – Addie LaRue is largely set in the’present’ day of 2014 New York, where she meets Henry, a man who can strangely remember her. I found Henry incredibly intriguing, with such an important representation of anxiety and depression. Many of his innermost thoughts and fears are something that I related to myself, and exploring the impacts of mental health especially for a male character is extremely important.
But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten. To remember when no one else does.
What I wanted more of
Because Addie LaRue is such a character focused story largely set in the present, I felt like we missed some of the very best parts of Addie’s life that could’ve been completely fascinating. Some things, like her being a spy temporarily, were alluded to, and how she witnessed the rise and fall of cities. These were implied but we never got to see any of it, which was kind of disappointing.
Instead, the story loops and loops back to Addie visiting her childhood home, with Addie encountering Luc over and over again, and it kind of felt like deja vu. I felt like some of these scenes could’ve been cut out with little impact to the overall storyline.
For someone who lived 300 years, I felt like Addie didn’t really do much aside from being a muse to others – although again, I wonder if it’s because of the way the story was told. Especially since the latter part of the story is set in the early 2000’s – I can’t really imagine why you wouldn’t want to travel and see other nations, or do something useful with your life and make a difference to the world. Although much of the book is set in Paris and New York – which are a melting pot of cultures – it was disappointing to see a lack of diversity outside of the “token” people she met in New York.
Beautiful, sensual and deeply philosophical, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is an incredible read that I quickly devoured. Although Addie LaRue can’t physically make a mark – she will leave an imprint in your heart and soul, as you discover her story. It is such a wonderful, poetic read that will have you pondering the meaning of life in general and the mark that you want to leave behind.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Thanks to NewSouth Books for sending me review copy!
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$32.99 or from The Book Depository.
Trigger warnings: attempted suicide
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