cover image The Life Impossible

The Life Impossible

Matt Haig. Viking, $30 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-48927-7

In Haig’s magnificent latest (after The Midnight Library), a retired math teacher unexpectedly inherits property in Ibiza and escapes her static life in Lincolnshire, England. Upon hearing the news, widowed Grace Winters takes up residence in the ramshackle house left to her by her old friend Christina. In a note, Christina suggests Grace find a man called Alberto to show her the miraculous seagrass meadow beneath the Mediterranean. Grace, who doesn’t know how Christina died, determines to follow her late friend’s advice but is unable to appreciate the island’s scenery due to her guilt over her 11-year-old son’s death in a bicycle accident 30 years earlier. Her mood changes, though, when Alberto takes her scuba diving and she’s touched underwater by a shape-shifting blue light, which Alberto calls La Presencia and claims is a portal to another planet. Her encounter with the light also gives her mind-reading and telekinetic powers, which she first tries out in quotidian situations, often to humorous effect, such as when she makes an obnoxious restaurant patron stab himself with a fork. Soon, though, she applies her newfound abilities to a higher purpose, joining a battle to save the island from an unscrupulous developer. Haig’s spellbinding descriptions of the portal and its powers lend themselves to the convincing conceit that Grace, thanks to her encounter with La Presencia, is not only able to change her life but to make a difference in her new community. In Haig’s sure hands, magic comes to breathtaking life. Agent: Clare Conville, C&W Agency. (Sept.)