Summary From Goodreads:
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.
This review will be a tough one to write. This book is so many things, many wonderful things, I am in the midst of a major book hangover and this one will definitely be in my top 3 reads for 2021. SO.GOOD.
Not quite fantasy, not quite magical realism, but also throwing in a healthy dose of philosophy, reference to the classics, and bits of historical fiction, the story of Addie LaRue leaps across centuries, telling her story in a way she herself never thought possible. France 1714: A young woman on the verge of a marriage she doesn’t want, that will sentence her to a life she cannot imagine, makes a deal with the Darkness. And yes, Luc is the Darkness with a capital D. Call him the devil, or Lucifer, or whatever ancient power you want, but be careful what you wish for because your wish just might be granted.
Addie makes a deal with the Darkness to allow her to live forever, trading her soul for a deal that grants her immortality, but also curses her in that no one she meets will remember her. She is a ghost, wandering among the living, experiencing moments of a life lived, but only fleetingly. Until she meets Henry.
Henry is adrift. A man without a purpose in his life, who has never been able to really commit to anything and drags depression and anxiety about belonging in this life around with him. He’s working as the sole employee of The Last Word, a bookstore in current-day NYC, with a series of failed career choices and life-mates as the only things to mark his time here on earth. Henry is the first person in 300 years to remember Addie and together they begin to build a relationship that reminds her of the importance of human interaction, of being someone to someone else, and being remembered. For Henry, she is the girl with a zest for life and slowly she brings him out of his meager existance and teaches him how to live each day as if it were his last, filled with adventure and fun and joy.
But the Darkness isn’t content to let Addie and Henry live out the years of Henry’s mortal life together. The 300 years the Darkness has spent with Addie have attached him to her, and he is not willing to let Addie go. After all, a deal’s a deal, and he plans to hold her soul captive until she’s ready to be done living her life.
There were so many things I loved about this book but any time I finish reading a book and am already thinking about sections of it and the broader philosophical points it brings up about what it means to live a life and what a life well-lived actually is, I know this is going to be one of the books I think about years down the road. And that is a book that makes my top 3 or 5 of any given year.
I fell in love with Addie, and my heart broke for her as she tried to figure out ways to navigate the specifics of her deal with the Darkness. It really struck a chord with me that she has fashioned the Darkness for herself (she has sketched him from her imagination so many times already before she calls him into being that he takes a human form she recognizes) because really… don’t we all do that? Create the things that give us dark days and sleepless nights, stress and anxiety and worry? The historian in me loved the snippets of eras as Addie moves through them, the casual references to culture in those eras, and how the world continues to move on but in some ways stays the same.
By the end of the book, I felt like I really knew both Addie and Henry. I’ve certainly known parts of each of them in friends and family in real life. I loved the tie-in of the star-like freckle pattern across Addie’s nose and cheekbones, and how that art history thesis of Bea’s finally brought that concept full circle. (I also have known/currently know Robbie). The journey (both in time and character-wise) for both Addie and Henry is nicely balanced against the magic of the Darkness, the wonder of experiencing all the things life (or multiple lifetimes) have to offer, and what is memory, whether the memory of a moment, or of a loved one, or of a great book?
Rated 5/5 stars. This book completely exceeded my expectations and I wish I could go back and experience it for the first time again – I enjoyed it THAT.MUCH.