Narrator: Carey Mulligan
Published by Penguin Audio on 2020-09-29
Length: 8 hours and 50 minutes
Reviewing Audiobook from Library
Reading Challenges: 2022 Audiobook Challenge, 2022 Backlist Reader Challenge, 2022 Beat the Backlist, COYER 2022
The dazzling favorite about the choices that go into a life well lived, from the acclaimed author of How to Stop Time and The Comfort Book.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting blockbuster novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
I’ll be the first to admit that this book wasn’t at ALL what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it all the same. When reading the blurb the first time, I thought “cool, a sci-fi novel that lets you slide through different dimensions and times.” I think I was expecting something along the lines of Doctor Who, but that was my interpretation and based on nothing but the blurb and some reviews I read. Y’all, it is nothing like that! The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is an exploration of one woman’s life, her deepest regrets, and how one choice can set your life on a different path. Dealing with topics of depression, suicide, grief, and death, it isn’t for the faint of heart. However, Haig delivers a beautiful, messy story that is as relatable as it is entertaining.
We first meet Nora Seed on the day she decides to die. Nora is a deeply depressed character, struggling with her grief and regrets. Her life isn’t what she thought it would be. She’s still living in her hometown, having never left. She chose to dump her fiancé before their wedding, and while to the reader it’s clear it was the right choice, Nora regrets it and even misses him on occasion. Then her cat dies, her brother doesn’t want to see her, and she loses her job all in one day. She’s done and with a bunch of pills on hand, Nora decides to die and wakes up in the Midnight Library.
The Midnight Library is like an in-between place. You aren’t dead, but you also aren’t alive. Time stands still. Every book on the shelf is a different life Nora could have lived had she made a different choice. Rock star, Olympian, dead mother, dead father, both alive, married with a kid, living in Australia, fighting a polar bear….all of these are different lives Nora could have, and through the library is able to experience. There is only one book in the library that she isn’t allowed to touch and that is her book of regrets. Each life choice that she has made is written there. The library is infinite, and Nora has the chance to slide into each life and experience it. This concept is interesting because it gives Nora the chance to right her wrongs and see what her life could have been. But will she be happy in any of those lives is the real question. And if she is happy, will she stay?
I devoured The Midnight Library. Nora’s constant “sliding” into new lives is captivating as well as her own self-discovery through the process. The only constant character besides Nora is the library’s caretaker who appears to Nora as her grade school librarian and friend. It’s an interesting dynamic to see. While this is definitely a sci-fi read, I believe it would appeal to anyone who enjoys contemporary or women’s literature. I personally highly recommend it!
The Midnight Library was voted as our June #COYER adult book club read. We will be discussing it in the group this Sunday, June 26th at 4pm EDT. Join us in the group if you’d like to discuss! Our next book club will be Fantasy.