Monday, September 27, 2021

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig (author), Carey Mulligan (narrator)

Penguin Audio, ISBN 9780593340233, September 2020

Nora Seed has been having a life in which it seems every important choice she makes is bad. She lets everyone down, or so it seems the people she cares most about have always told her. Her mother, for whom even the slight asymmetry of her ears is unacceptable. Her father, whose own athletic career died due to an injury. Her brother, when she quit their band for which she was the real songwriter and the best singer. Herself, perhaps, when she quit university, and didn't pursue a career in either philosophy, or glaciology.

Now she's 35, living alone, and is estranged from both her brother and her bestS friend. She's just been let go from a dubiously adequate job at a music shop called String Theory. And then an occasional customer at String Theory knocks on her door to tell her, very kindly, that he's found her cat, dead by the side of the road. She decides to kill herself. Yes, this is just the very start of the book.

Nora takes a fatal dose of her antidepressants, and finds herself walk towards what she discovers to be a library, the Midnight Library. She enters to find an enormous library filled with books of various lengths, all entitled "My Life," and the school librarian, Mrs. Elm, who was a source of kindness and stability during her school years. Mrs. Elm will guide her through what the library offers her--a chance to examine her regrets, visit alternate lives, and, if she finds one that truly fits her, the chance to remain in that life permanently.

Nora enters lives where she became a rock star, an Olympic medalist, a glaciologist. Lives where she married her fiancé, went to Australia with her best friend, went to the US and married a vintner in California.

Each of these lives is unsatisfying and ultimately she fades out of it and returns to the library.

Is there no possible life where she can be happy? Is the problem her, rather than any particular wrong choice she made? Is she doomed to just die, as she intended, because of character rather than mistakes?

Or is she not quite getting how this process works, and the kind of new choices she needs to make?

The first part of this books was quite rough for me to listen to. I've had serious depression problems of my own, and I honestly am glad this audiobook wasn't around for me to listen to when my depression was worse than it is now. Yet I didn't stop listening, because it's very good, very thoughtful, and Nora and her problems and choices are so easy for me to relate to.

So--recommended with caution.

I bought this audiobook.

No comments:

Post a Comment