Author: Matt Haig
Narrator: Carey Mulligan
Audiobook Length: 8 hours 51 minutes
“Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?”
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
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 new 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.
It seems that everyone I know has already read The Midnight Library and had nothing, but good things to say about it. I previously meant to read this novel, but, unfortunately, it fell off my radar until recently when I saw it pop up on my recommended audiobooks list. I was nervous that this would not live up to the very high expectations I had, but I found this story to be very enjoyable and addictive.
Carey Mulligan provides the narration in the audiobook where she tells the story of the main character, Nora Seed, a woman in her thirties. Her narration definitely added a new layer of enjoyment to the story as she voiced each reality and character to match the proper tone, so it felt very natural. The story begins setting the stage for Nora’s character and the unhappiness she feels in her own life. She overdoses, but does not end up in heaven/hell and instead ends up in a sort of purgatory set in a library. She is presented with her own book of regrets and there are shelves of books that show another dimension/reality that show the lives that could have been if one decision from the past changed.
The concept of the Midnight Library had me questioning what all my books would look like and which ones I would choose. The idea that you could pick up a book featuring one small change and it would transport you to a completely different reality was extremely interesting. Nora goes through many different lives as a rock star, an Olympic swimmer, a wife/mother, among many others. It becomes apparent that Nora does not know what she truly wants to be happy in life as none of them turn out to be perfect.
Nora was an interesting character as I had a lot of sympathy for her, but I questioned many of her choices along the way. The realities she chose felt a little superficial, as she liked swimming, so she wanted to go that path. To me, maybe the first life or two might be like this, but I would think she would have taken time to look deeper before jumping into a new life. I am not in the same situation, but it would be my thought process given the opportunity to choose a life that would make me happiest.
I loved the idea of parallel universes and taking the path not chosen as it does make you second guess any decisions, no matter how small. Like everyone, I have regrets and things I would have wanted to do differently, so it made me wonder what parallel universes exist in my own library. While not a perfect read, it was extremely captivating as I was rooting for Nora and hoped that she would find ultimate happiness with herself. This was an excellent read and I would read more from the author.