On the eve of the end of the world, 20 December 2012, five friends meet in Spanish Gardens, the cafe where they had celebrated their college graduation 20 years before. Over Irish coffees, they reminisce — and reveal long-held and disturbing secrets.
Each friend in turn is given a curious set of instructions by an enigmatic bartender named Ariel:
“Your life is filled with crossroads and you are free to choose one road or another at any time. Stepping through this door takes away all choices except two — the choice to live a different life, or return to this one…”
Each in turn passes through the portal and are faced with new lives and challenges. Their decisions show a new life — or something far worse. Ar [sic] the end of the world, it’s a chance for redemption, or a chance to learn something about themselves.
International bestselling author, Alma Alexander, mixes a world of possibilities and paths. What if you could change the past — go right instead of left, fall in love with a different person, change careers or families, or even change your sec. 2012 Midnight at Spanish Gardens brings those choices to life.
The premise for this story was really intriguing. The plot was interesting, with a flavor of the mysterious and fantastic. And the feeling the story gave me lingered once I put it down. There was a POV switch around page 30, where it shifted from third person limited to omniscient, that tripped me up a bit. But after that, the characters’ stories — the “second lives” they experienced — redirected my attention. The only other thing that tripped me up was that sometimes the writing could get distracting. Especially at the beginning and in the group scenes, the characters spoke with a similar, gilded* vocabulary. Not that “big, fancy words” are bad, but with all the characters using them so frequently, it flattened them out… Until I reached Quincey. This is where I think the book really hit its stride. Where before I felt curiosity about what was in store, at this point I became invested. And I wasn’t tripped up by the writing because it got tighter. Quincey shone off the page as a fully-fleshed character. Her struggles felt real. And as a result, her journey was one of my favorites.
After Quincey, I found that the writing improved, and the characters crystallized –becoming more individual from one another. Their tendency for gilded words still occurred in group scenes, but their journeys engaged me. Their decisions at the ends mattered to me. Ultimately, I loved the concept of this book — the idea that you could live another life and make different mistakes, then choose which mistakes made you happier, and step into that life. It certainly makes you wonder what life would await you on the other side of that door…
Olivia could not believe how little had changed on the street where she stood.
- A Vanderbilt? … I thought they were extinct.” // “They’re a family, not a clutch of Velociraptors.
- Here, you change the world around you; there, you have to change to fit the world. Both are harder than you think.
- We all have to die of something, honey. Otherwise there would be no room in this world for those who come after us.
- But they had run out of eventually, and turned the corner into the place of raw truth.
- There are an infinite number of bridges that can be crossed. And once you choose one of the possibilities that becomes the only firm ground — all the rest is smoke and dreams.
- You may never remember the details of the things that you choose to give up — but if you choose wrongly now, there might come a time when you turn around after a shadow and think you might have seen it before, somewhere, sometime, in a dream, and feel — if only for a little while — strangely lost, and bereft. You will never know why.
- But ‘never’ comes around far more often for some people than for others, apparently.
- Why couldn’t you have picked a nice up-scale French restaurant instead, Simon? You know, the kind where the entree comes in impenetrable colors and is squarely in the middle of an otherwise fascinatingly empty plate and leaves you hungrier when you finish it than when you started?
- They’re all going to get a rather nasty surprise when they discover that the new world in the morning starts with the mother of all hangovers.
- …do you need tea and sympathy?
- …and as far as dogma is concerned it’s just the human interpretation of the word of God, and what do humans know?
- …although I don’t know why anyone would denigrate anything that has been a [sic] called a ‘ceremony of commitment’ — God knows true commitment is rare enough for it to be precious when it’s found..
- Trust me,” // “I do … With the rest of my life.
- …but the brilliance and sparkle in her eyes and the glow in her face owed very little to powders and paint.
- But this, this was different … it felt solemn, and sacred, and enormous. They were married now.
- Don’t do this — don’t waste time looking back. It all looks so different when you’re looking back, and you know so much more now that you could have possibly known at the time.
- You don’t outgrow language … Or joy. Or at least I hope you don’t.
- You have always … been stronger than you have believed yourself to be.
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