Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of Us

The Verisons of Us is a ‘What if’ Novel, a combination of ‘Sliding Doors’ and Robert Frosts ‘The Road Not taken.  It also reminded me of The TimeTravellers Wife, one of my all time favourite novels.   Every day, decisions are made, choices are given, and taken and life takes us on a journey as we choose one road over another. I am always intrigued by that question of ‘What if?’.  What if I had said Yes; what if I had caught the earlier train; Small decisions which can lead to big outcomes. ‘The Versions of Us’ deals with this in such a clever way.

I am borrowing from The Guardian newspaper their summary of the story as is written much more succinctly than I could achieve.

“In version one, Eva and Jim meet and fall in love at university in the 1950s; in version two, they just miss one another; and in version three, it all goes horribly wrong.

The temptation with this book would be to try and follow what is happening too closely.  I soon realised, the way to read was to simply go with it.  The three stories were all totally absorbing and I did’t mind that I sometimes got lost over which story I was reading.  It is written so well that I loved each story equally.  Each version of Eva and Jim’s story is well developed with a great supporting cast.  The ability to do this is no mean feat.  Writing two stories along side each other often results in one being more interesting or engrossing than the other, this isn’t the case here. Each story works equally well and complements the other.

In each of the three stories of Eva and Jim, their tenderness and feeling towards one another is never in doubt, and its this depth of feeling they had for each other which drew me into the novel. I loved Eva and I loved Jim, despite his flaws and found myself caring for them in each of the permutations.

“He sees her now, handing a slice of cake to an elderly woman he doesn’t recognise.  She has her back to him, but sensing she is being watched – or perhaps feeling that same tug – she turns.  With you I can face anything, He tells her silently.  Stay with me.

Eva given him a small smile – barely a twitch of the lips  – as if to say, simply Yes.”

I tore through this, reading it in big chunks, always squeezng in just one more chapter before turning the lights out.  I loved it and I know it will be one of my top reads of 2017.

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