The Bossy Bookworm
Review of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
Addie grapples with what it means to only be able to whisper in the world rather than shout. What is the value of a life that must be begun anew each day--a life no one else holds memories of?
In early eighteenth-century France, 23-year-old Addie LaRue is desperate. She's about to be married off to an older, slightly repulsive widower to serve as a nursemaid for his children, and her parents support this horrifying plan. Addie wants to see more of the world, to be more in the world, and she is eager to allow for some mystery in her life. So she makes a Faustian bargain in order to live freely--until she's ready to surrender her soul.
But it's essential to be specific and exacting when making a bargain with the Darkness. She may live for centuries if she wishes, and she will be free of entanglements and obligations--but she will be immediately forgotten by everyone she meets.
Each day Addie wakes up a stranger, even to someone she spent the night with. She can't have a home or a job because a landlord or employer would have no recollection of her after a day. She can make no mark on the world--she cannot write or draw, she cannot disturb the snow by walking through it, she cannot even say her true name to another person. But she begins to eke out an existence around the edges of the Darkness's oppressive rules. She can serve as a muse; she can inspire music and art in others; she can learn what others want or need and be that for them for a day. She can borrow, steal, indulge, and then disappear. I found Addie's workarounds to be one of the most fascinating parts of this story.
Addie finds the Darkness abhorrent and infuriating, yet he is the only being who recognizes her, who knows her. Over decades and centuries, their connection becomes powerful, almost intimate. Meanwhile Addie circles back to her original life and home, searching for who she was--who she really is. But she finds no comfort there. She grapples with what it means to only be able to whisper in the world rather than shout. What is the value of a life that must be begun anew each day--a life no one else holds memories of?
Then Addie meets a young man in a hidden-away bookstore--and he's the first person in almost three hundred years to remember her after she walks out the door, the next day, and every day afterward. At long last, she can say her true name to someone; she could even tell him her preposterous story of eternal life. But why is she able to break the rigid rules of the Darkness with him? And what secrets is he keeping from Addie?
Any Bossy thoughts on this book?
Schwab publishes adult books under this name (and young adult books under the name "Victoria Schwab"). She has also written the Villains series (two titles in that one so far) and the Shades of Magic series as V.E. Schwab.
I mentioned this book (along with The Fighting Bunch and The Empress) in the Greedy Reading List Three Books I'm Reading Now, 12/2/20 Edition.