I just finished reading The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. As I read it, I pondered the junctures of my life where I made fateful decisions. For example, what if I’d stuck with my first choice of being a pre-med major instead of dropping that, floundering about, and eventually choosing English Literature and then an MLIS? Would I have made a good doctor? Would I have liked it better than my ultimate career as a librarian and, since I retired, a writer?
It’s interesting to ponder these things. Of course, we can never know for sure what might have been. I suspect my happiness level is a set point and while some things can make me miserable, or briefly euphoric, I then revert to that set point. I doubt if a different career path would have made a huge difference.
Meanwhile, back in this timeline, I have decided on a cover for my forthcoming mystery, Silent Winter Solstice, which should be published within the next few months!
For those who don’t already know, The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, is about Nora Seed a young woman who is unhappy with her life. On one particularly bad day, she decides to end it. But, instead of dying, she finds herself in the Midnight Library, which is filled with an infinite number of books. A librarian shows her one book that lists all of Nora’s regrets and explains that Nora can choose to go back in time and make a different choice. Each choice will lead to a different life. Each of the books is about one of those possible lives. There are all kinds of vague science-y sounding things about multi-verses and so on.
Most of the novel is about Nora making choices and experiencing different lives. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I started skimming the chapters. I got the gist. She chooses a life, isn’t satisfied, and then goes back to the library to choose another.
If it sounds kind of corny and formulaic, it kind of is. And yet it works. Mr. Haig’s observations about people, their motivations, miscommunications, and ultimately how we can love and care for ourselves and each other, makes this otherwise forgettable time-traveling, sci-fi book more than the sum of its parts. It reminded me of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems.
The Road Not Taken
BY ROBERT FROST
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.