The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
Book Review / Classic Novels / Motivational Books

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Book: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Publication: Canongate

Pages: 304

Price: Click the link to buy the book

 

Introduction:

Born in 1975, Matt Haig is a modern-day English novelist and journalist. He proves his prowess in writing both fiction and non-fiction. The Midnight Library by him is a heart-touching fictional journey with the protagonist Nora.

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

 

 

Opening of the book:

The book opens with the introspection of Sylvia Plath“I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.”

Yes, we all want to live multiple lives. This is a common suppressed desire that we cherish in us. In my life, I wish to be a photographer, a fashion designer, a writer, and what not?

We all crave to taste life to its full.

And if I am provided with the chance to live another life that I could have lived….should I take the chance? We will read the book to get the answer to the question.

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

The Midnight Library – The Passage of Epiphany:

The Midnight Library explores the library that exists between life and death. After her suicide attempt, Nora would reach the library just at Midnight when the clock would strike 12. The library is a terminal point where one will stand to contemplate the life she or he lived and the lives she or he could have lived alternatively. This fictitious library exists in every human heart as we always dither on our unsatisfied existence.

” And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived.”

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

 

Theme:

Matt Haig’s novel The Midnight Library dissects the life of Nora Seed. Despite so many possibilities and skills, she lived a dismal,  depressing life. She was a smart and intelligent lady of 35, at Bedford, England. She might be a glaciologist or swimmer with an excellent future. She was also an excellent musician. But her low spirit and anxiety achieved the good hand and stopped her from being successful in life. She worked at a music store and taught piano. But her depressing negative attitude to life and people took her away from the mainstream of life and the people she cared for and loved. Her brother Joe became a stranger to her, she left her fiancé Dan. Even her best friend Izzy departed for Australia with whom she had very little touch. She always felt that people did not want her and she was good for nothing.  She was as unsuccessful as a pet cat keeper or as a musician. In a fit of chronic despair, she committed suicide. But after her death, she reached the same library where at an early age she used to play chess with Mrs Elm, the librarian. Here she came to revolutionary happenings of her life that changed her life-view. In the library, all the books represented the lives, that Nora could have lived if she had made different choices regarding her life. There was one book- Book of Regret. This book contained Nora’s regret about her life, what she wanted to be in her life and what she could not be. Then She was convinced to live the other lives that she regretted.  One after another she picked up her regrets… her life as the wife of Dan, her life as a famous singer, her life as a glaciologist etc. But after trying all the lives, she wished to live earlier, finally, she realized that her present life was the result of the futility of those wistful lives. She felt stronger as she no more thought of herself as a failure. She desperately wished to live her life and ask Mrs. Elm for help. On her advice, she started to write on a blank book with an orange coloured pen before the library collapsed.

She got back to her present life with her suicide attempt. She vomited and asked for Mr. Banerjee’s help for an ambulance. She wished to live the life she always despised.

Symbols:

Death as a symbol:

Death is a powerful factor in this novel as every chapter before Nora’s suicide starts with the counting of days before Nora dies. Now and then we are reminded that something uncanny is about to happen. Nora will die…soon…very soon.

Chess Board:

The book opens with a chessboard and Nora and Mrs. Elm playing chess. The novel ends with the same picture. The black and white squares of the chessboard stand for the whirlpool of our life…the labyrinth of existence.

Music:

Music like a  motivational spirit roams freely in this novel. Nora’s love for music, piano, emblems her passion.

Characters:

Nora Seed:

She was a 35 years old lady and deeply depressed with her life. She attempted suicide.

The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

Library:

The library is an important character here. It is a small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford.

Mrs Elm:

She is a  kind-hearted librarian with whom Nora used to play chess and she always inspired Nora about her bright future.

Joe:

Nora’s brother felt disappointed when Nora left the Music Band Labyrinths.

Dan:

Nora’s would-be husband whom Nora left two days before the marriage.

Izzy:

Nora’s friend with whom Nora planned to go Australia but cancelled that at the last hour.

Mr Banerjee:

Viola! A Bengali name. I feel so much related with this name, i.e. the title- ” Banerjee”. Thank you …. He was a doctor who used to provide anti-depressants to Nora. He would help Nora with an ambulance when she attempted suicide.

Leon:

Nora’s piano student

Doreen:

Leon’s mother.

Neil:

Neil was the music shop owner where Nora used to work. Neil had a particular inclination towards Guitar while for Nora Piano is her world.

Ravi:

A mutual friend of Joe and Nora.

Best Quote from the Book:

“Life begins,” Sarte once wrote, ” on the other side of despair.”

“The paradox of volcanoes was that they were symbols of destruction but also life. Once the lava slows and cools, it solidifies and then breaks down over time to become soil-rich, fertile soil.”

 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Alvina’s Verdict:

I feel that I can enjoy the novel more and can hug it as one of my best motivational books if the author withheld some parts after Nora started living her not-lived life. The chapters went on and it was so boring and depressing. Sometimes I feel like abandoning Nora’s companionship with that recurrent past living.

But finally, it was my hard-earned success. I feel it…I relish it…I enjoy the message.

It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more astutely, been more popular…”

I cannot but quote the lines as they entrench a deep fathomless satisfaction within me.

Yes, yes, yes, l want to live a thousand times like Nora.

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