The Midnight Library: A Novel
Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford. She sat at a low table staring at a chess board.
‘Nora dear, it’s natural to worry about your future,’ said the librarian, Mrs Elm, her eyes twinkling.
Mrs Elm made her first move. A knight hopping over the neat row of white pawns. ‘Of course, you’re going to be worried about the exams. But you could be anything you want to be, Nora. Think of all that possibility. It’s exciting.’
‘Yes. I suppose it is.’
‘A whole life in front of you.’
‘A whole life.’
‘You could do anything, live anywhere. Somewhere a bit less cold and wet.’
Nora pushed a pawn forward two spaces.
It was hard not to compare Mrs Elm to her mother, who treated Nora like a mistake in need of correction. For instance, when she was a baby her mother had been so worried Nora’s left ear stuck out more than her right that she’d used sticky tape to address the situation, then disguised it beneath a woollen bonnet.
‘I hate the cold and wet,’ added Mrs Elm, for emphasis.
Mrs Elm had short grey hair and a kind and mildly crinkled oval face sitting pale above her turtle-green polo neck. She was quite old. But she was also the person most on Nora’s wavelength in the entire school, and even on days when it wasn’t raining she would spend her afternoon break in the small library.
‘Coldness and wetness don’t always go together,’ Nora told her. ‘Antarctica is the driest continent on Earth. Technically, it’s a desert.’
‘Well, that sounds up your street.’
‘I don’t think it’s far enough away.’
‘Well, maybe you should be an astronaut. Travel the galaxy.’
Nora smiled. ‘The rain is even worse on other planets.’
‘Worse than Bedfordshire?’
‘On Venus it is pure acid.’
Mrs Elm pulled a paper tissue from her sleeve and delicately blew her nose. ‘See? With a brain like yours you can do anything.’
A blond boy Nora recognised from a couple of years below her ran past outside the rain-speckled window. Either chasing someone or being chased. Since her brother had left, she’d felt a bit unguarded out there. The library was a little shelter of civilisation.
‘Dad thinks I’ve thrown everything away. Now I’ve stopped swimming.’
‘Well, far be it from me to say, but there is more to this world than swimming really fast. There are many different possible lives ahead of you. Like I said last week, you could be a glaciologist. I’ve been researching and the—’
And it was then that the phone rang.
‘One minute,’ said Mrs Elm, softly. ‘I’d better get that.’
A moment later, Nora watched Mrs Elm on the phone. ‘Yes. She’s here now.’ The librarian’s face fell in shock. She turned away from Nora, but her words were audible across the hushed room: ‘Oh no. No. Oh my God. Of course . . .’
Also by Matt Haig
A Conversation About Rain
Nineteen Years Later
The Man at the Door
To Live Is to Suffer
How to Be a Black Hole
The Midnight Library
The Moving Shelves
The Book of Regrets
Every Life Begins Now
The Three Horseshoes
The Penultimate Update Nora Had Posted Before She Found Herself Between Life and Death
The Only Way to Learn Is to Live
The Last Update That Nora Had Posted Before She Found Herself Between Life and Death
The Successful Life
The Tree That Is Our Life
Walking in Circles
A Moment of Extreme Crisis in the Middle of Nowhere
The Frustration of Not Finding a Library When You Really Need One
One Night in Longyearbyen
Life and Death and the Quantum Wave Function
If Something Is Happening to Me, I Want to Be There
God and Other Librarians
Wild and Free
A Silver Tray of Honey Cakes
The Podcast of Revelations
Love and Pain
Someone Else’s Dream
A Gentle Life
Why Want Another Universe If This One Has Dogs?
Dinner with Dylan
Last Chance Saloon
Buena Vista Vineyard
The Many Lives of Nora Seed
Lost in the Library
A Pearl in the Shell
The Perfect Life
A Spiritual Quest for a Deeper Connection with the Universe
No Longer Here
An Incident With the Police
A New Way of Seeing
The Flowers Have Water
Nowhere to Land
Don’t You Dare Give Up, Nora Seed!
The Other Side of Despair
A Thing I Have Learned (Written By A Nobody Who Has Been Everybody)
Living Versus Understanding
How It Ends
About the Author
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|Epub, PDF||April 20, 2022|
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