Wednesday 22 March 2023

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and Signal Moon by Kate Quinn!


The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets? A novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

This book was an interesting read for me... Not because it's outside of my normal reading - which it is - but because I listened to it whilst struggling to keep my head above the proverbial water whilst battling through a particularly vicious depressive episode. Reading a book where the character's life is really a bit shit so she decides to unalive herself could have been a step too far for many in my position but, for me, it was beautifully eye-opening. 

It is obvious that the author knows depression. He's been there... He's stared into the abyss and, one way or another, he's come out the other side of it. It's right there in how he writes Nora. Writes the librarian. In how he tells Nora's story... And it's so compelling. 

I loved the concept of a library in between life and death. Of being able to experience the lives you could have lived if you changed just one thing... The ultimate game of what if... Of facing down all those regrets and seeing what would have happened if you had just done/not done something... And then having to make a choice. To stay. To go. To try again. 

The book is sad but also hopeful. A thoughtful, thought-provoking, story that makes you examine things through a different lens and gently, empathically, urges you to never give up. 

It was definitely one of the most beautifully written and unique books I've read in a very, very, long time. 

My only complaint is that we didn't get to see how life ended up for Nora! Yes, we know what her choice was but... Was she happy in the end?

The audiobook version is narrated by Carey Mulligan and she was spectacular. She really brought the story to life. She poured so much heart into Nora... I really recommend the audio.

Signal Moon by Kate Quinn

A short story about an impossible connection across two centuries that could make the difference between peace or war.

Yorkshire, 1943. Lily Baines, a bright young debutante increasingly ground down by an endless war, has traded in her white gloves for a set of headphones. It’s her job to intercept enemy naval communications and send them to Bletchley Park for decryption.

One night, she picks up a transmission that isn’t code at all—it’s a cry for help.

An American ship is taking heavy fire in the North Atlantic—but no one else has reported an attack, and the information relayed by the young US officer, Matt Jackson, seems all wrong. The contact that Lily has made on the other end of the radio channel says it’s… 2023.

Across an eighty-year gap, Lily and Matt must find a way to help each other: Matt to convince her that the war she’s fighting can still be won, and Lily to help him stave off the war to come. As their connection grows stronger, they both know there’s no telling when time will run out on their inexplicable link.

Another book that isn't my usual fare but I absolutely loved it! My husband loved it and my son loved it... We listened to the audio while on a car journey and it covered off the "to and from" trip perfectly as it was under 2hrs long.

The story is a little bit of historical fiction mixed with... I have no idea! Speculative fiction? Science fiction? It really doesn't matter as whatever it is is blended perfectly together.

A signal anomaly leads to Lily, a WWII communications officer at Bletchley, intercepting signals from what she thinks is an American ship getting destroyed by the Nazis. She listens as the signals officer - Matt - keeps transmitting to the end. It's horrifying, emotional and utterly gripping.
When Lily puts the impossible facts together and realises that this is something happening in the future she hatches a plan to help that signal operator save his ship... A plan that will take 80 years to come to fruition.

Lily and Matt's connection is fantastic. You really feel the bond between them stretching across time. 
Kate Quinn is insanely talented. She pulls you into this story, hijacks your emotions, and makes you feel like you know these characters - really know them. In a short story, that's almost impossible to achieve but she has a way with words that is magical. 

The story left me feeling so many things... So many illogical things. I genuinely felt like I'd lost something! An overwhelming sadness that Matt never got to meet Lily. Relief that, when all was said and done, they got to speak one last time before the signal anomaly closed.
There were tears when he visited Bletchley... 
It was bonkers. 

This is a story that will stay with me forever. I've been recommending it to everyone. 
It's just perfect.

PS - The audiobook was very well done! The narrators were spot on and conveyed all the emotion, built the tension, and put the cherry on top of the story cake!



  1. I have never read Haig, but people seem to love his books. I have this on my TBR. I think it's one I could like. It sound very thoughtful and thought provoking

  2. I loved both of these, and both as audiobooks too. Wonderful reviews


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