The Midnight Library – A brilliant premise and great fun to have so many stories within one book
The Midnight Library is written by Matt Haig, a uplifting, poignant novel about regret, hope, and second chances. It was first published on 1st January 2018 in the UK, and is being published in the US on 28th November 2018.
The story takes place in a library that opens at midnight for people to read and borrow books before they awake for work. The protagonist of the story, Linus Hart-Johnson, works there as watchman by day. He befriends his colleague, Chloe Sefton-Jones, who also spends her nights at the library reading books from one single shelf. Linus and Chloe fall in love, despite being warned by the librarian Matthew to never date because “two people sharing an item from the shelf is a bad idea.”
One morning another librarian named Kay arrives. She seems to be bitter with Linus and does not hide her disdain for him, but gradually she softens towards him. One night Linus finds Chloe sleeping on the bench outside of their library, and he wakes her up to show her something. But upon returning to his library, he finds that it has been locked and all the books have been removed from it. He then tries to notify his colleagues on his radio but they turn off their radios when Linus is about 40 miles away from them. He quickly gets out of his car to try to get back but it is too late.
The story picks up four years later, when Linus and Chloe’s son, Samuel, is born. Linus is devastated at the memory of what happened and tries to search for a book called “The Invention of Wings” to no avail. His wife struggles with his erratic behaviour and takes him to see a psychologist who insists that Linus has Multiple Personality Disorder. Being lost from the library, he wonders if he needs others’ memories to be happy. One day, a man named Malcolm knocks on the door and claims that he knows where books are kept. Linus and Chloe agree to take him to the library, only to find that the library is a sizeable warehouse.
The novel follows a dual narrative structure, the first being a contemporary storyline about Linus, Kay, and Samuel. The second storyline occurs in two parts: from Chloe’s point of view in 1995–96 and then from Matthew’s point of view 1998–99. In the first part of Matthew’s storyline we learn that he has been tasked with keeping track of all the books that are taken out of or returned to the library as punishment for unauthorised borrowing by his ex-lover (Linus). He is also losing his memory and when he returns to check on a book that was returned he finds it missing.