Title: The Other Us
Author: Fiona Harper
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?
Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.
When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.
Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?
Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?
This is a book that really makes you think about life’s ‘what if’ moments, and though it’s not something I think about a lot, The Other Us did make me think that, if one thing changed in your life, things could be so different – but would they be any better?
The Other Us is an enjoyable, sweet and, at times, poignant read which follows some great characters. It centers around Maggie and shows her complex relationships with Dan, Jude, Becca and others as she navigates life, relationships, family and kids, careers… all whilst wondering what if? Maggie isn’t really happy at the start of the novel, and always wonders how things would be if she had ended up with ‘the one that got away’, Jude. When she begins to experience an alternative reality in which she had got together with Jude, it shows her how happy she could have been – and also how some elements in her life also change as a result.
The themes in this novel aren’t just about Maggie’s marriage/ relationship but covers her friendship with Becca, her choice of career, whether she has children… it’s a great novel for making you, along with Maggie, wonder whether she’s really ‘messed up’ her current life or not. The story itself is fairly light-hearted and fun, though at the beginning I did find it quite upsetting, if I imagined being in the same situation myself. There are parts which are quite predictable but I think you often expect that with novels in this genre and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story. The different timelines really drew me in – I love novels that do this (as long as it’s done well, of course!), and it wasn’t too confusing to follow.
I found Katie Scarfe to be a great narrator for this; her voice didn’t get on my nerves (I sometimes find audiobook narrators’ voices can grate!) and she presented the story really well. I’d definitely recommend The Other Us in both a readable or narrated format – it was enjoyable and really kept my attention throughout!