If you’ve in no way pondered existence’s contingencies—like what might’ve befell if you’d skipped the birthday celebration in which you met your spouse—then Matt Haig’s novel The Midnight Library could be an eye-beginning experience. This mild but never cloying fable offers us a chance to weigh our regret over missed possibilities towards our gratitude for the existence we have.
Fresh from the loss of her process in a dreary English town she thinks of as a “conveyor belt of despair” and not far eliminated from the choice to cancel her wedding two days earlier than the scheduled date, 35-year-vintage Nora Seed reveals herself going through profound depression. When she decides to quit her lifestyles, she awakes inside the eponymous library, managed by way of Mrs Elm, the kindly school librarian who had befriended her as a lonely teenager.
The shelves of this specific library are stuffed with identical-searching volumes, each one giving Nora a chance to see how her life would have turned out if she had made special choices. After first consulting her Book of Regrets, and with Mrs Elm’s encouragement, Nora plucks one book after another from the shelf, permitting her to shed her dismal “root existence” and recognize her desires to live as an Arctic researcher, an worldwide rock star, a philosophy professor, a mom and more. In every case, a feel of dissatisfaction eventually propels Nora returned to the Midnight Library, seeking out every other path, as she steadily comes to recognize that the stressed search itself may ultimately show to be her undoing.
Haig, who’s been frank about his personal studies with depression, is a sympathetic manual for Nora’s journey. His allusions to multiverses, string principle and Erwin Schrödinger by no means detract from the emotional heart of this fascinating novel. And while Nora’s sojourn lets in her to understand that perhaps “even the maximum seemingly perfectly intense or worthwhile lives in the long run felt the same,” and that “lifestyles in reality gave you a whole new perspective via waiting around long sufficient to see it,” Haig brings her story to a end that’s each enlightening and deeply satisfying.