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.
This was a book club read, and definitely not one I would have discovered otherwise – the joys of book clubs! I have never picked this book up, despite having seen a lot about it in the past, because I don’t tend to go for fantasy, particularly not YA fantasy – but it turns out this book is not Young Adult, it’s adult fiction… I’m not sure how I got confused (are her other novels YA perhaps?), but once I started reading I really enjoyed this novel. It took me a while to get into – I wasn’t as sure about the setting in 18th century France, perhaps just because it’s a bit out of my reading comfort zone, but I found myself more and more drawn in.
We follow Addie as she makes a deal with the devil to get her out of a horrible engagement – but in return for her ‘freedom’, Addie is stuck living indefinitely (until she is ready to give up her soul) and she’s doomed to always be forgotten by everyone she meets.
The characters are great – Addie is really likeable and so is Henry, plus there’s plenty of queer representation in its pages which is an extra bonus. There is a wide cast of characters because Addie meet so many people across her very long lifetime, but most of them are just side characters so it doesn’t get too confusing, though I definitely lost track of how some of them related to Addie.
This is a long book (at over 550 pages) and some parts did feel like they could have been cut down slightly, but it has fairly short chapters and we move between timeframes and settings a lot, so you don’t have time to really get sick of a setting before you go back to present day and vice versa. Addie lives through so many centuries that you get to read about France, New York and even a bit of London through the ages, and I really enjoyed that. I am also pleased this is magical realism (or is it? I’m never sure how to define a book as that genre…) as I felt I could get into it much more than if it was high/ epic fantasy, or that kind of thing.
Something that did get on my nerves whilst reading this novel was what felt like, for me anyway, excessive use of similes and metaphors. There’s a lot in there and it felt overworked at times.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue made me think about life and death and what makes a life worth living. It doesn’t feel too heavy, despite there being some serious themes in there – to me, it felt like a pretty lightweight, easy read. I enjoyed it!