The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue


V. E. Schwab

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on V. E. Schwab's The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of V. E. Schwab

Victoria Schwab (who also writes under the name V.E. Schwab) was born on July 7, 1987. Her mother is British, and her father is from California. She grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and attended college at Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2009. Her debut novel, a young adult novel called The Near Witch, was published in 2011. She published her first adult novel, Vicious, in 2013. Schwab writes primarily children’s and young adult fiction, which she publishes under the name Victoria Schwab. She’s also known for the Shades of Magic trilogy, a fantasy series for adults, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. For The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Schwab received the 2020 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. In 2020, Netflix ordered production of a supernatural teen drama series based on Schwab’s 2020 short story “First Kill.” Schwab created and served as executive producer for the series, which ran for one season.  Schwab currently lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.
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Historical Context of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue takes place over the course of 300 years, with the main action beginning in 1714, the year Addie makes a deal with the devil to escape an undesirable marriage, and ending in the novel’s present, 2014. The novel inserts Addie into numerous significant events in Western history, including the French Revolution, the prohibition era, and World War II. During Addie’s early years in Paris, she frequents the city’s salons. A salon is a gathering of people who come together to engage in riveting intellectual conversation. They were a major part of 17th- and 18th-century French literary and philosophical movements and flourished during the Enlightenment, a European movement that valued reason, logic, and the pursuit of knowledge. Women played central roles in salons and had the power to select guests and determine subjects of discussion. The salon was a place where women could share ideas and engage in intellectual debate. This was significant, given that society largely barred women from receiving formal educations at this point in history. In The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Addie attends the salon of real-life salonnière Madame Geoffrin, one of the leading female figures of the French Enlightenment. In Madame Geoffrin’s salon on the Rue Saint-Honoré, Geoffrin hosted many of the Enlightenment’s most important artists and thinkers. Throughout Addie’s 300-year experience with immortality, it’s not only her deal with the devil that makes her invisible and forgettable to others, but also her status as a woman; throughout history, women have been barred from participating in intellectual and artistic movements, and public life in general. Addie is drawn to Geoffrin and her salon because they display a degree of visibility and renown that Addie’s deal with Luc and broader social constraints have made impossible for her and for women in general.

Other Books Related to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

V.E. Schwab has published several other works of fantasy in addition to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. The Shades of Magic trilogy is a fantasy series for adults. The series follows a young magician, Kell, who has the ability to travel between parallel realities of London, and he uses this power to deliver important news and messages between worlds. Vicious, Schwab’s first novel for adults, is also a work of fantasy. The novel follows college roommates Victor and Eli who gain superhuman abilities after suffering near-death experiences. Addie LaRue gains immortality upon striking a deal with the devil, a cultural motif that’s also called a Faustian bargain, so named for the German legend of Faust. (Johann Georg Faust was a Renaissance-era alchemist and magician the Church condemned for blasphemy and devil-worship.) Famous adaptations of the legend of Faust include Christopher Marlowe’s drama, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (c. 1604) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 19th-century drama Faust. The Postmortal (2019) by Drew Magary is a recent novel that explores similar themes to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, notably the downside to immortality. The novel takes place in the dystopian near future, in which humanity’s cure for aging has created a world where an increased human population leads to a new set of problems.
Key Facts about The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
  • Full Title: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
  • When Written: 2010s
  • When Published: 2017
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Setting: New York City; France; various cities throughout the U.S. and Europe
  • Climax: Addie promises her soul to Luc, thereby relieving Henry of his debt to Luc and saving Henry’s life.
  • Antagonist: Luc
  • Point of View: Third Person

Extra Credit for The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

Film. In 2021, the production of a film adaptation of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue was announced. Schwab was involved in preliminary drafts of the screenplay.

Time Traveler, World Traveler. In addition to researching the time periods during which Addie, the protagonist of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, is alive, Schwab has stated that she also conducted “geographic research” in the process of writing the novel, traveling to every place that Addie visits.