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The Midnight Library By Matt Haig

Clever, warm and uplifting and a delightful read.

Genre/description: Fantasy, up-lit.

The idea that you could choose the best version of your life is the premise of this entertaining and thought-provoking novel by Matt Haig. Nora Seed’s life has reached crisis point; she is filled with regret about her failure to take lost opportunities to make a success of her life. Everything that could go wrong has done so with alarming results. Her cat dies, she is fired from her dead-end job, and her brother isn’t speaking to her anymore. She takes an overdose of pills, and as the clock strikes midnight, presuming that she has died, she finds herself in a library, re-united with her childhood mentor, the school librarian. But this is a library with a difference, each book contains a version of Nora’s life and how it turned out if she had made different choices at various critical stages. The possibilities are endless, to be an Olympic swimmer, a rock star or a famous glaciologist - to be a lover, a wife, a mother. As Nora explores these different versions of her life, she starts to question her relationships with others and the things and ideas that she once considered important.

Written in a lucid style, the author’s knowledge of philosophy, which is delivered in easily understood soundbites, provides an extra dimension to the narrative, almost as a silent, reliable narrator in an unreliable setting. It presents opportunities for the reader to question universal mind-wrecking narratives that suggest that if only different circumstances prevailed, life would be better.

Although, well-paced, maybe fewer examples of Nora’s life alternatives would have delivered more impact - however, this did not detract from my overall enjoyment of this warm, funny and uplifting novel. I loved the writing style, the stories, and marvelled in the quirky, cleverness of it all.

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