“The tree that is our life develops branches. And think of all those branches, departing from the trunk at different heights. And think of all those branches, branching off again, heading in often opposing directions. Think of those branches becoming other branches, and those becoming twigs (…). A life is like that, but on a bigger scale”
The Book Of Regrets
We always wonder what our life would be if we would do this or that. This novel explores the idea of different choices and possibilities we can have in life. The problem is possibilities are endless and there is not enough time to try out all the routes. When Nora Seed finds herself between life and death she enters a library where she has the opportunity to decide which life she wants to live. Up to this point, her life has been full of regret and misery. She feels she has let everyone down including herself and she has lost all the hope for a better tomorrow.
The moment she enters the library she is forced to start with the most grim book there is: The book of regrets. She turns page after page feeling overwhelmed with sadness and pain. Some pages were faded, some very clear, almost as if they were just printed. With the help of an old friend she can now undo her regrets and pick a perfect life.
Too Many Possibilities
Nora could be an Olympic swimming champion, a rock star, a glaciologist, a philosopher, a local pub owner, a traveller, a mother. No matter which book she has opened, which life she has entered she was not satisfied. “Every second of every day we are entering a new universe. And we spend so much time wishing our lives were different, comparing ourselves to other people and to other versions of ourselves, when really most lives contain degrees of good and degrees of bad”. Between those lives Nora realised that every choice she has made in her life was to satisfy someone else. She became the Olympic swimming champion for her father, she decided to stay in the rock band for her brother and she became glaciologist because her school librarian suggested she will be good at it.
Somewhere between studying physical properties of snow and ice and being a mother she has realised something very important: she wanted to live. But not in between different versions of herself, she wants to go back to her root life, to that very first branch departing from the tree. I won’t spoil the ending here, you will have to read it to find out. All I can say it was very moving and meaningful.
This was a wonderful novel! I came across this book when I was looking at Goodreads choice winners for 2020 and I can confirm with confidence that Matt Haig deservers this award. Beautifully written and emotional story that I cannot recommend enough.