The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig

6 October 2021
The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, book cover

If we live in an infinite universe, or an infinite collection of universes, then all things are possible. There may be alternate versions of you and me, somewhere out there, living lives completely different to the ones we recognise as our present reality. Relative to this universe, that is.

The Midnight Library (published by Allen & Unwin, September 2020), the seventh novel of British author Matt Haig concerns itself with similar themes. In the absence, perhaps, of a multiverse, there is the Midnight Library. It is a place located on the edge of our universe, containing an infinite number of books.

One book is an account of the life you currently lead. Then there is another title, where you can read how your life might be, had you made different choices. It is to this far-flung story repository that Nora, a troubled young woman comes to, after she attempts to end her life. Nora has the chance to read the many stories her life could have been, had she decided to do something else.

Through these books, Nora goes on a tour of her mistakes and regrets, and sees where she went wrong. We all know the drill. Should I have taken the other job? Married someone else instead? It’s a charming, enviable, premise. To be able to undo all those bad decisions, and do the “right” thing. If only it were that simple. But if such a notion does appeal to you, maybe The Midnight Library will too.

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