In the early 1700s, Addie LaRue was a girl living in a village in the French countryside. After refusing many suitors, she is finally promised against her will to a widower in the village. Addie desires nothing more than to get out of this arrangement.
She prayed and made offerings to the old gods and to the Christian God, begging to be let out of the agreement. She knew better than to pray to the gods who answer after dark. After all, their deals are not ones that a person really wants to make.
In her desperation, she prays anyway, and finds herself with an answer. She makes a deal. This “god” frees her from her marriage, but there is a catch. She would be invisible as she went through life. No one she interacted with would be able to remember her. She couldn’t leave a mark on the world, tell her story, or even give others her true name.
But will that always be the case? Will she find ways to make relationships? Will she surrender her soul to the god and declare their deal paid in full?
I noticed . . .
This book has gotten so much buzz that I was almost afraid to read it. I often find that, when I read a heavily buzzed book, it has a hard time living up to the praise. For a couple of weeks, this might have been the only book that I saw on Instagram. I also sometimes have a hard time with historical, and this fantasy does have some historical elements to it.
I needn’t have worried. This book was practically perfect in every way. It has a little bit of a slow start, but I loved all of the main characters (even the antagonist), the premise, and the details of the story. I felt like, at times, Addie was a little dependent upon sex for connection, but I guess if that were the best contact I could make, I’d do that too.
I wondered . . .
I wondered what kind of a “god” Luc was. I wondered about the extent of his powers. I wondered if he had to have permission from a higher being to deal in souls the way he did.
I wondered a lot about Henry after the end of the story. I can’t really say all of my questions without giving spoilers. I just had so much to wonder about!
It reminded me of . . .
Luc reminded me of one of the crossroads demons from the television show Supernatural. I could totally see something like that happening with a character from that show.
I also couldn’t help but think of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. People who come in contact with the witches in that book tend to forget them the further away from their house that they get. Addie has that problem too as anyone who leaves her present soon forgets her.
I also found similarities between this book and the book Magic Lessons for two reasons. First, it feels like the historical setting on both books are set fairly close in time. Second, it seems like both women are cursed with an inability to form lasting relationships. Both books also have a kind of fairy tale quality to them and lyrical writing.
Three Excellent Quotes:
The writing was beautiful, and there were three quotes that really resonated with me as I was reading. The first was Henry’s struggles as a theologian. He found that his studies affected his beliefs, and I also sometimes feel like my studies damage my own religious beliefs. As Henry puts it,
The truth is, you have no desire to practice, you see the holy texts as stories, sweeping epics, and the more you study, the less you believe in any of it.
My professors assure me that it is temporary, but this is a common struggle for religious scholars.
I also really appreciated the author’s sentiments about history as voiced by Addie,
History is something you look back on, not something you really feel at the time. In the moment, you’re just . . . living.
I keep telling my children that living through the pandemic is living through history that they’ll be able to tell their own children about–just like how Stranger Things has made my kids think my 1980s childhood is the coolest thing ever.
I also found the author’s words about length of life, as spoken by Luc, to be quite meaningful.
“The vexing thing about time,” he says, “is that it’s never enough. Perhaps a decade too short, perhaps a moment. But life always ends too soon.”
I think those of us who lost loved ones, even loved ones who had lived good, long lives in 2020 can attest that there’s never enough time with those we love.
So, those are all my thoughts about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Have you read it? How do you approach buzzy books? Do you read them straight away or leave them alone until some of the buzz has died down?