This novel is the epitome of creativity and imagination, something that I could visualise very clearly thanks to Matt Haig’s alluring writing.
We meet Nora, who has decided to end her life.
She regrets a lot, is unfulfilled with life and has lost her job.
Despite her decision, at the stroke of midnight, comes The Midnight Library and Mrs Elm who breathes with it. Time stands still; one does not tire, nor need to eat. I started reading this in the evening and felt cosy, which was quite fitting with the library emerging at night.
Mrs Elm introduces Nora to the Book of Regrets, where she has the chance to take out a book from the library: each book tells a story of how her life could’ve been, had she fixed one of her regrets. Each time she visits, they fade from the Book of Regrets. But she has no control over whether she returns to the Library – she can be there for a few minutes, hours or even weeks. Nor can she take a book out more than once…
Her first regret involves breaking up with Dan, until one story shows she shares a pub with him – does she really love him?
In Australia, her best friend Izzy has died.
She continues with her swimming and becomes a successful Olympic swimmer, only to discover dad is now alive, having previously quit in her current life.
In another life she is a high profile Rockstar, only to find out the devastating news in a podcast interview that her brother has died of an overdose.
Her most impactful visit comes when she is working as a glaciologist and comes close to death with a polar bear.
At that moment she realises; she doesn’t want to die.
More importantly, she meets the dashing Hugo, who is in a similar situation to her by visiting his possible lives. However, he brings it to her attention that there is still the possibility to die during these visits: she is no dream.
It becomes apparent that Nora is learning, and she learns every life she has tried so far is someone else’s dream.
My favourite visit is towards the end when Nora learns she has a loving husband and daughter – so is this dream hers or someone else’s?
The library exists because of her. She is the library card. I was gripped to see whether the library would take her back, if she would die, or whether there was another twist ahead… a thoroughly enjoyable read for those seeking a stimulating experience for the mind!
rating – 4.5/5
genre – fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, philosophical