I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Weidenfield & Nicolson on 4th June 2015
What if you had said yes? The moments that change everything...
The Versions of Us is a love story told three ways. A young man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their lives.
Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. There is also David, Eva's lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply but cares more for his own talent. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first chance meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal and ambition, but through it all is a deep connection that endures, whatever fate might throw at them.
The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we travel through life.
EMOTIONAL, THOUGHT PROVOKING, INTELLIGENT, BRILLIANT
* the versions
* the interlinking of the different versions through main events
* I can’t think of anything.
Think Sliding Doors, except no Gwyneth Paltrow-style haircuts, 3 possible versions rather than two… oh and better!
So The Versions of Us follows the 3 different courses that the lives of Eva and Jim may take following a chance encounter. What if Eva falls off the bike? What if she avoids that dog? The Versions of Us branches from there – 3 routes that the lives of Eva and Jim could take.
The book takes us chronologically through these 3 potential paths. I love the way that Laura Barnett connects these 3 ‘versions’ through people and events that remain constant (that’s my scientific brain; I do love a good constant against which to measure variables). It ties everything together beautifully. I found myself smiling as I encountered the characters in the same physical place in each version, but in very different circumstances.
To be honest I had to remind myself of each version before I started its chapter. I would find myself so absorbed in version 3 (for example) that I needed to remind myself of what was happening in version 1 before reading on. Now, my brain doesn’t always cooperate with me, so in all likelihood it’s just me that finds the need to do this. However mentally summarising each version proved really helpful for me, and I know that I got the most from the book this way.
Barnett explores Eva and Jim, their lives, careers, loves, families, betrayals and dreams in each version. Three different ways the story could go, but through them all is one deep connection that binds the versions together.
In my opinion, it takes a lot of courage, and great talent, to tell three stories simultaneously. To be able to engage the readers, to write multiple-versions of the same characters and to absorb the reader completely in each story – that is a real talent and Laura Barnett accomplished it with ease.
This book took me on an emotional rollercoaster. There were times, and versions, where I was utterly frustrated by characters or turns of events. I laughed, I cried (I rarely cry at books), I considered the “What Ifs” of my own life but all the while I loved it.
This is a beautifully-written, thought-provoking and emotional novel. It’s hard to believe that it’s a debut. As far as I’m concerned this is a must-read for 2015!