Some moments can change your life for ever. Have you ever wondered, what if…?
A 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. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them…
The story has three narratives that covers different possible versions of Eva and Jim’s lives (very sliding doors-esque!) and though all three are intertwined, the reader sees that one incident or decision can affect people’s lives in various ways. They switch between narrators so you get more than one perspective throughout which was really interesting to read. However I did, at times, lose track of which ‘version’ I was currently reading- the beginning of each part does start with version 1, 2 or 3 but I couldn’t always remember which differences belonged to which version, if that make sense! I’d be thinking ‘is this the one where they got together straight away? or ‘is this the version where that he is married to her…?’ and so I’d have to read on for a while until I twigged! I wouldn’t say this had a hugely detrimental effect on my enjoyment of the story though.
The characters were quite well developed and seemed like real people. For example, Jim seems like a really nice guy and very likeable, but he’s not perfect; in fact, the author doesn’t try and make ANY character perfect and I feel that this reflects real life more! I enjoyed reading about the characters and following them as they grew up through the decades- it makes you feel like you’ve really got to know them! It also made me think about how I would look back on my life (so far!) and I guess that’s often one of the purposes of books; to use fiction to reflect and consider your own- very real- life. Or maybe that’s just me…!
I really enjoy books that center around the ‘what if?!’ as they always make me think. The story was quite emotional at times- I always feel sad reading about marriages breaking up and affairs, etc, and this had plenty of that and more. I always think, when chick-lit is done well, it is one of my favourite genres to read. Unfortunately it seems there’s a lot of crap to wade through before you find the gems- but luckily there are so many gems to find, and this is one worth reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Versions of Us. It’s a great first novel from author Laura Barnett and I look forward to reading future work by her.