Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of Us

We are up to book number 41 of my Goodreads Reading Challenge (and book number 9 of my holiday reads!).  My latest review is of The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett.

‘What if you had said yes . . . ?

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.’ (Thanks Amazon)

Eva Edelstein and Jim Taylor have a chance meeting one day in 1958.  From that moment on we follow the three different versions of their futures, as we explore how changing one tiny detail can affect the future.

These three versions of Eva and Jim’s lives contain different love stories, marriages and heartbreak.  The only constant throughout is Eva and Jim, their stories beautifully interwoven over the course of 50 years.  The story is reminiscent of One Day by David Nicholls, but with its own twist.  Barnett cites The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger as an influence on her as a writer, and this can clearly be seen in the way that she moves effortlessly between versions and time periods.  It is hard to believe that this is Laura Barnett’s debut novel, with its intricacies and interwoven versions of the same story.

I must admit that I found this novel difficult to read at first, despite each chapter being clearly labelled with which version of the story you were reading.  Most of the characters appeared in each version, and I did find this confusing.  However, once I had really got into it I discovered that it was worth my perseverance – each version of the story was clearly written with a love for both Eva and Jim as they dealt with the consequences of their actions from that one moment back in 1958, even if they didn’t realise it.

I picked up and read this novel with no expectations (I didn’t even realise it has been a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick until after I’d read it).  I was rewarded for choosing this novel with a beautifully written story of love and loss, family and solitude, showing how one decision can influence the path that your life takes.  If you haven’t already, go and pick up this novel.

Rating: 📖 📖 📖 📖

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