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The Midnight Library - Book Summary

The Midnight Library - Book Summary

by Matt Haig

'A beguiling read, filled with warmth and humour, and a vibrant celebration of the power of books to change lives'
–  The Sunday Times
'A beautiful fable, an It's a Wonderful Life for the modern age - impossibly timely when we are all stuck in a world we wish could be different'
– Jodi Picoult

The book is about a woman named Nora attempting to end her life but she ends up in a Midnight Library. A place filled with books containing different versions of her life story.

At the present time, she lives in Bedford, feeling lonely and depressed. She receives a lot of bad news, first her neighbour Ash tells her that her cat, is dead. The next day she gets fired from the store she was working. On her way home, an old friend tells her that her brother may be depressed. When she tried to reach her friend Izzy,  she gets no response. Her only piano students want to quit and also the elderly neighbour found someone else to bring his pills.

Hopeless she overdoses on some pills but, instead of dying, she wakes up in the midnight library, where she meets Mrs Elm- her librarian from school.

Here she has to pass a test, to find a life that she could live. The books in the library represent a life story and when she selects one to read, she will be teleported into that life, if that life is not bringing her happiness, she will be brought back.

In the first life, she marries her ex-fiance, Dan. They both have a pub, but they have money problems. Dan is not as she remembers, he is an alcoholic and cheats on her with another woman.

Thinking of her cat she tries a life where Voltaire is still alive. But he ends but dying anyway. Here Nora learns that some choices are out of her control.

Then she tries a life where she is closer to her friend, Izzy. They are living in Australia, but Izzy ends up dying in a car crash.

Thinking of her father, she tries a life there she persuades swimming. Here her brother is the manager and her father is alive, but they are still the same and despite her being a successful swimmer and an inspirational speaker, she is unhappy.

She tries a life where she was encouraged to become a glaciologist.
When she faces a polar bear that intends to kill her, she realizes she has wanted to live this entire time.

Thinking of her brother, she chooses a life where she stays in the band with him. She enjoys this life until the finds out her brother died of an overdose.

Wanting to try an easy life,  she works in a local animal shelter. Here she has a boyfriend, Dylan who is kind to her and despite everything being ok, she doesn't feel happy.

After many tries, persuaded by Mrs Elm she tried a life where she is married to her neighbour Ash. In this life, they live in Cambridge. Nora is a philosophy professor and they had a daughter. But on a trip visiting Bedford, she realises that there is some work left to be done and chooses to return to her actual life.

She wakes up in the hospital and starts to take action, making up with her brother, reconnects with Izzy and plans to ask Ash out on a date ...

The book ends up when she visits Mrs Elm(the real one), and they both start a game of chess.

Note: Some pieces of information are left out of the book.
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Photo by Tono Graphy / Unsplash