Summary and book reviews of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

by Victoria E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria E. Schwab X
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria E. Schwab
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  • Published:
    Oct 2020, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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Book Summary

Winner of the 2020 BookBrowse Fiction Award

In the vein of The Time Traveler's Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab's genre-defying tour de force.

A Life No One Will Remember. A Story You Will Never Forget.

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.

New York City
March 10, 2014
I

The girl wakes up in someone else's bed.

She lies there, perfectly still, tries to hold time like a breath in her chest; as if she can keep the clock from ticking forward, keep the boy beside her from waking, keep the memory of their night alive through sheer force of will.

She knows, of course, that she can't. Knows that he'll forget. They always do.

It isn't his fault—it is never their faults.

The boy is still asleep, and she watches the slow rise and fall of his shoulders, the place where his dark hair curls against the nape of his neck, the scar along his ribs. Details long memorized.

His name is Toby.

Last night, she told him hers was Jess. She lied, but only because she can't say her real name—one of the vicious little details tucked like nettles in the grass. Hidden barbs designed to sting. What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind? She has learned to step between the thorny weeds, but there are some cuts that cannot be avoided&#...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What are the best and worst things about Addie's invisible life? What is the emotional toll of being unable to imprint herself on the heart and mind of another person? When does it give her an advantage?
  2. Discuss the intense power struggle between Addie and Luc. What makes him such a master of seduction? How does Addie reclaim her power and agency over the course of the centuries?
  3. Addie slips into the homes (and even the clothes) of people from all walks of life. Which abode did you like the best? If Addie borrowed your house, what would she enjoy the most about the contents of your cupboards and your closets?
  4. As we meet Addie's many lovers, Remy stands out as the first man who lived up to her girlhood fantasies. On the magical night they...
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    BookBrowse Awards
    2020

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Everything about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is stellar, from the pacing to the characters to the exceptionally well-thought-out plot. Schwab's writing, too, is superb, convincingly reflecting the longing at her heroine's core while at the same time being beautifully descriptive. I wholeheartedly recommend it for a broad audience as a feel-good and overall charming read. The novel would also be an excellent choice for book groups, as it raises many wonderful topics for discussion, such as the lengths one might go to for love or what one might do with eternal life...continued

Full Review Members Only (664 words).

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

NPR
[W]hile I don't want to say too much and spoil the effect, I loved that as Addie LaRue unfurls its final pages, we discover that we've been a part of her story all along without even knowing it. What might feel meta or too cute in less competent hands, Addie LaRue manages to pull off like the prestige of a particularly elegant magic trick, leaving us with the feeling that we too have been a part of Addie's long and invisible life. I for one will most certainly remember her.

Buzzfeed
A beautiful, meditative novel with an ending that hit me right in the heart.

New York Times
Schwab’s writing is warm and intense, and the passages set in the past often make you feel as if you’re reading by candlelight...The book is an elegant comment on the erasure of women from recorded history, but not a pointed one; you never feel that Addie LaRue is a metaphor. She is a woman fighting literally to be seen while bearing witness to her own life, and I rooted for her throughout.

Washington Post
[A] tour de force...[The] ending will no doubt divide readers. Regardless of how emotionally satisfying they find the resolution, though, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue remains one of the most propulsive, compulsive and captivating novels in recent memory.

Chicago Review of Books
There is no particular art to literary fiction that doesn’t exist in fiction of other genres, and V. E. Schwab’s new book The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue isn’t just an amazing book for its genre; it’s an amazing book, full stop...a gorgeous, immersive story...Schwab is an inclusive, ambitious, and exacting writer, and she doesn’t let either her characters or her readers off the hook...This book doesn’t blend genres, or even transcend genre. Schwab simply renders the idea of genre irrelevant—because, in the end, it is. What The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue does—what any truly great book does—is transport and transform us. And in the end, that’s the only thing that’s important to remember.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This sweeping fantasy is as much a love story as it is a tribute to storytelling, art, and inspiration. Schwab's diverse cast is beautifully rendered, and the view of human connection on offer is biting and bitter, yet introspective and sweet. This ambitious and hopeful work is a knockout.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
This is the kind of book you stay up all night reading—rich and satisfying and strange and impeccably crafted. Spanning centuries and continents, this is a darkly romantic and suspenseful tale by a writer at the top of her game.

Library Journal (starred review)
Schwab returns with another epic story of love and remembrance that probes deep into history while also penetrating profound matters of the heart.

Booklist (starred review)
Deeply romantic, impossibly detailed.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Palimpsests

Spectral imaging equipment being used to examine a palimpsestThe heroine of V.E. Schwab's novel, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, often takes notice of what she refers to as "palimpsests," which she defines as instances where the past is blotted out and written over by the present.

The word palimpsest comes from the Greek palimpsestos, meaning "scraped again." Strictly speaking, the term refers to a piece of parchment that has been "recycled" — cleaned of its original text and overwritten in the interest of economy — but on which traces of the earlier document can still be observed.

The technique was relatively common in antiquity, when writing media such as parchment (made from animal skin) were scarce and expensive. Existing text would be erased by literally scraping off the ...

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