I just finished a book I thought was pretty enjoyable. The Invisible Life of Adeline LaRue by V.E. Schwab is about a girl growing up in a tiny village in France in the 18th century. She dreams of travel, and adventure, and romance with mysterious handsome admirers. But once she comes of age, her parents are ready to marry her off to a local, and she sees the writing on the wall – marriage, kids, monotony, death. Not what she has in mind for her life. So, Addie runs for it. She wishes, and she prays, and she makes offerings to avoid this lot to any god who will listen. As it turns out, the god in the night was listening. And so, Addie makes a deal with the devil. She trades her soul for her freedom. Of course, Luc (Addie’s name for this devil, who unfairly comes to her in the form of her imagined most perfect lover) does not make a square deal. He gives her freedom, yes, even immortality to a point, but at a cost. Addie’s soul can never be remembered. Each time she meets someone, they will immediately forget her. If she makes a purchase, the merchant accuses her of stealing because they don’t remember her. Her lovers will wake up to a stranger, her, confused or embarrassed about why she’s in their bed. And so on. The deal she makes with the devil is that she can live free on these terms until she can handle the isolation no longer, then he’ll claim her soul. Luc’s pretty sure she can’t hack it. But Addie learns to live like a shadow, a living ghost. And she trapeses around the world for 300 years, seeing and learning all its wonders. Luc visits her every anniversary of their deal to see if she’s had enough, if she’s ready to give up her soul. Though there are times she’s so miserable and lonely she is tempted, she is determined not to give in. Why? You just have to kind of go with the story here and accept that they have a flirtation going on. Luc is the only one that remembers Addie and knows her. He is her only “family” so, in a way, she loves him. He, in turn, has become enchanted by Addie’s spirit. He kind of likes that she never gives up her soul, even though he wants it.
One of the problems with not being remembered, for Addie, is not making any lasting impression in this world she finds so worth living in. And the devil knows this. It’s the purgatory he creates for her. She can only be a spectator, not a participant. But Addie loves to beat the devil at his own game, and she finds ways to be remembered. She becomes a muse. Though artists, singers, and writers cannot remember her, they can remember the ideas she plants in their heads over days and weeks and months. Over the years, her image shows up in paintings, her story in songs, her ideas in words. Never with her name, just a reference to the same mysterious girl. There are many ways to make a difference, one of her many boyfriends tells her, before forgetting her, there are the words of the writer, “but there are also the hands that set the type, the ink that made it readable, the tree that made the paper. All of them matter…”
Well, eventually, Addie meets Henry, and he REMEMBERS her. It’s 2014, and she’s trying to steal a book in his bookstore in Brooklyn. “I remember you from yesterday, I told you to get lost,” he says, and a romance is born. If you think something is fishy because no one else has remembered her in 300 years, you’d be right. Addie senses it but tries to put it out of her head because she’s so happy. The rest makes for a satisfying ending that I won’t divulge. But if you want a light story, tinged with a little dark magic, pick this up your next trip to your local library or bookstore. Happy Reading!