The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The #1 Sunday Times Bestseller
"A beguiling read, filled with warmth and humour, and a vibrant celebration of the power of books to change lives" - Sunday Times
"A beautiful fable, an It's a Wonderful Life for the modern age - impossibly timely when we are all stuck in a world we wish could be different" - Jodi Picoult
"A celebration of life's possibilities . . . A beautiful concept . . . Charming" - Guardian
"A brilliant premise and great fun to have so many stories within one book" - Daily Mail
"Amazing and utterly beautiful, The Midnight Library is everything you'd expect from the genius storyteller who is Matt Haig" -- Joanna Cannon
"An uplifting, poignant novel about regret, hope and second chances" - David Nicholls
"A wonderful story . . . Such a beautiful book to get lost in" -- Zoe Ball, BBC Radio 2
From the back of the book:
Nora's life has been going from bad to worse. Then at the stroke of midnight on her last day on earth she finds herself transported to a library. There she is given the chance to undo her regrets and try out each of the other lives she might have lived. Which raises the ultimate question: with infinite choices, what is the best way to live?
My Review: 3.5/5 stars
I enjoyed this book as it was a light a palate cleanser between some of the more in depth books we have been reading. So although I liked the main character, I wouldn't say that it had the emotional pull of some of the other novels we have been reading. The premise of the book was an interesting one - who hasn't thought how their life might be different if they had made different decisions at various crossroads in their life?
Some of Nora's "alternate lives" in the books felt like "teaching moments" where the author was trying to show you that the things you regret in life wouldn't result in a better life. I couldn't help but wonder, if there are infinite possibilities, why couldn't she have ones where she stayed with her husband and he didn't cheat? Or where she moved to Australia and her friend didn't die? Surely there was a life where she moved to Australia, won the lottery and relaxed at her beach side mansion. So these earlier lives seemed only to show teach her (and us) a lesson about regrets.
I did find it amusing that she was dropped into these alternate lives with no idea what was going on, but it also made it less believable that she would be able to thrive and enjoy these lives to stay in them. It was predictable that she would return to her original life since she felt an attachment to her neighbour and her piano student that she didn't feel to people in her other lives where she appeared suddenly.
I also brought up to the rest of book club the idea of fate and whether we believe that everyone is supposed to "end up" somewhere. This book seems to imply that is not the case and every small decision results in a different ending. I always liked this idea from Forrest Gump:
"I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're floating around accidental - like on a breeze, but I think...maybe it's both? Maybe both is happening at the same time."
Overall, this was a good choice for a book club. It promoted discussion and was an easy read that I think shows you lessons that we have all heard before in a creative, albeit obvious way. Not sure if I agree with the critics' reviews of "beautiful" or "amazing," but worth a read if you need a nice reminder of forgoing regrets and being grateful for what you have your life.