A former student turned friend of mine has told me to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue for over a year. She told me it was her all-time favorite and owns multiple editions. So I added it to my tbr and finally read it last week.
The novel follows Adeline LaRue. She was born in 1691 in Villon, France, a small village. Growing up she longed for the times of the year she was allowed to go with her father to the market in a larger town, but as she got older her mother made her stay home because it was no longer proper for her to be going out and about. Her parents are religious and attend church diligently. But, Addie enjoys learning about the old gods from an old woman in her village, Estele. Estele tells her she can pray to any of the old gods, but to never pray to the gods who answer after dark.
At 23, Addie has been betrothed to an older man, a widower. Desperate to get out of having to marry she runs off and prays and prays to be saved, but God doesn’t answer her. When she opens her eyes finally, it has turned dark and she hears a voice. The one who has answered her prayers is one of the gods who answers after dark.
Addie wishes for a life of freedom – freedom from responsibility to people and time. She wants to explore and see the world beyond her small village, learn things, see art, etc. At first, the god is not convinced to make a deal with her, but once Addie offers to give him her soul once she is done, he accepts. The catch? Addie learns immediately upon returning home that her life has been erased. No one remembers her. Her parents have no idea who she is. Estele neither. Not only do they not remember her, but whenever she introduces herself to someone they immediately forget her once they leave the room. Addie is immortal and free to do whatever she wants, but is it worth it if no one ever remembers her and now you’re destined to an eternity of loneliness?
The novel goes back and forth in time from Addie trying to survive through the years in Paris, Italy, etc. through the French revolution and world wars, prohibition, and then into the 2010s in New York City. Addie lives on exploring the world and getting visits from Luc, the god she made the deal with, as they torment each other over hundreds of years. He wants her to finally give in and give up her soul, she refuses despite being lonely. She claims to hate him, but at the same time he’s the only one who knows who she is and remembers her. Until one day, Addie meets Henry and he remembers her….
I won’t spoil what happens next or how Henry is able to remember her, but the novel is so beautifully written. The time periods and things Addie experiences and sees over the ages is this sweeping, detailed story of life, love, passion, art.
I loved the book, but I will say that I wasn’t really satisfied with the very end. It is left open to interpretation, but I’m not a fan of what is insinuated. I have my own theories about the end that my friend says are delusions, but it’s what I want to believe plus I found a lot of people with similar beliefs as me in Reddit threads lol.
A quote that I loved is said by Luc:
“‘Because time is cruel to all, and crueler still to artists. Because vision weakens, and voices wither, and talent fades.’ He leans closer, twists a lock of her hair around one finger. ‘Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end,’ he says, ‘everyone wants to be remembered.'”
I highly recommend this book if you like sweeping epics and fantasy. I did find it to be one of those books that you need to take your time with to really absorb it so I wouldn’t see it’s the type of book to binge, though I’m sure people do it.
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