THE SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING WORLDWIDE PHENOMENON
READERS' MOST LOVED BOOK OF 2021
WINNER OF THE GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD FOR FICTION
'BEAUTIFUL' Jodi Picoult, 'UPLIFTING' i, 'BRILLIANT' Daily Mail, 'AMAZING' Joanna Cannon, 'ABSORBING' New York Times, 'THOUGHT-PROVOKING' Independent
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?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Matt Haig’s Inside Story: “I’ve wanted to write a parallel-lives story for ages. Getting the right idea took quite a while. They’re among the hardest stories, structurally, to do—I think only time travel is harder. And it wasn’t until I got the idea of the library, which gave it a new enough hook. I like libraries anyway, so creating this magical library appealed.
“I used to be a bit of a latchkey kid, because both my parents worked late in the ’80s and early ’90s. I lived in Newark-on-Trent, and Newark-on-Trent doesn’t have much going for it, but does have a very nice modern library in the town centre. It’s all glass walls and it’s very light and colourful and it was a very, very modern building back then. Every night, I used to just hang out at the library. It’s a really nice, safe space for a sort of nervous teenager to hang out, and that’s what got me into Stephen King books, James Herbert books and old horror novels.
“If you’re not a religious person and you don’t have churches as your space, libraries are one of those few places that you can go to that don’t demand any money off you and are there as a welcoming space. We’re running out of those places. I mean, we’re literally running out of libraries. So it was nice to do a book that made the library a focus, even if it’s a sort of magical, between-life-and-death one.
“I knew the challenge of it was for it not to become a short story collection—because it’s episodic in a sense that [central character Nora] has lots of different lives that she lives—but to try and find threads and little things I could weave through.
“It’s the first time in fiction that I’ve written directly about mental health. A lot of my other books have it as a sort of metaphor or theme in some way. But to actually have the central character have their own depression, I suppose is the closest in fiction to Reasons to Stay Alive. The problem with non-fiction is you have to stick to the facts and stick to what actually happened. Whereas with fiction you’re so much freer to just really explore what you want to explore and, in a weird way, you can actually sometimes be more true when you’re writing a novel because you can literally go anywhere and explore all kinds of emotional truths and different things in different ways.”
Haig (How to Stop Time) draws on quantum wave theory in this charming if sometimes laborious account of the many possible lives of a depressed woman. Nora, in her mid-30s and living in the small English town of Bedford, suffers from "situational depression" though, as she wryly observes, "It's just that I keep on having new... situations." After she gets fired from her job and her cat dies, she attempts suicide, only to wake up in a book-lined liminal zone, where she is guided by a librarian: "Between life and death there is a library... Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived." There, Nora discovers what would have happened had she not abandoned her promising swimming career, called off her engagement, or left the rock band she started with her brother. Each time an alternate life disappoints or doesn't feel quite right, Nora exits, reappearing in the library to continue browsing for the perfect story. While the formula grows repetitive, the set changes provide novelty, as Haig whisks Nora from Australian beaches to a South American rock concert tour to an Arctic encounter with a polar bear. Haig's agreeable narrative voice and imagination will reward readers who take this book off the shelf.
Beautiful and so unusual! A real thought provoking uplifting read.
Lovely story full of wisdom and courage
The Midnight Library
Amazing book, throughly enjoyed it ! ☺️☺️