Addie LaRue longs for something more from life than marriage and motherhood: what is expected of her in her rural home in 1700s France. She wants a chance to live–really live. That’s where everything starts to go wrong in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.
It’s not asking so much, really, to be given a chance to choose what she wants–and who she loves–in life. But when her parents betroth her to a man she has absolutely no interest in marrying, she is willing to do almost anything to prevent that fate. Anything, including making offerings and prayers to the old gods her neighbor has long told her about. Still, all her prayers go unanswered. Until she accidentally makes a deal with the one kind of old god she had always been warned about: a god of the dark.
Surprise, surprise, it does not go exactly to plan. Her deal to get a chance at life in exchange for her soul comes with some side effects, including immortality and being forgotten by everyone she’s ever known and everyone she’ll ever meet. Life isn’t so much fun when even the people you love don’t remember who you are.
Turns out, immortality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
For the next three hundred years, Addie struggles and suffers and eventually learns the ins and outs of her new life. Not only does she figure out how to survive, she discovers she can still make a small mark on the world through patronizing the arts–in a manner of speaking. Though no one will ever remember her name or the part she plays in inspiring artists, Addie will know. And that’s enough.
But then she meets Henry. He’s just a boy in a bookshop. But somehow he remembers her. And soon Addie realizes there’s much more to him than meets the eye.
In flashbacks and scenes from modern day as Addie tries to uncover the mystery of this new boy who doesn’t immediately forget her name, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue unfolds a marvelous, unforgettable tale. Addie lives through the French Revolution and Prohibition, her experiences at times horrifying and electrifying.
More than anything, this is a story about survival and learning to live and relish life no matter the circumstances. Addie’s goal of thwarting the Darkness by refusing to give up her soul throughout the centuries may begin out of spite–and to be fair, continues out of spite–but it also becomes an opportunity for her to find joy and opportunity in the life she’s been given again. And that’s a remarkable thing.
This book defies easy categorization. It’s historical and contemporary and speculative and literary. Schwab draws on genres to craft a story that takes the best of many forms without every fully becoming any of them. Like Addie herself, the shape and genre of the book is always shifting to fit what is needed in the moment–a really wonderful parallel.
So, what I’m trying to say is: read this book. It’s an excellent story and unlike anything you’ve ever read before.