Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

The Versions of UsWhat’s it about?

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.

The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow.

What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

My thoughts

Although the Netgalley challenge has finished I still have a couple of books left on my reading list that I wanted to read and feed back on. This book has been there since about April so it was about time!

I’ve seen this book likened to One Day meets Sliding Doors which pretty much nails it: I can’t analogise any better!

“Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take”

I did enjoy this book, it’s quite slow paced and very character invested; I did feel engaged with the characters and the 3 different plot lines but the problem I had was the actual structure and format of the book itself.

Let me explain…it starts on Version 1, the next chapter Version 2, the next Version 3. It then goes back to Version 1 and repeat, you get the idea. This meant I was struggling to remember what’s happened in the previous Versions, it was impossible to read and not make notes or flick back several chapters to refresh your memory. Although each of the Versions share main characters, scenes, events and conversations obviously things take different courses.

The book is written in 3 parts and I wonder if maybe it would have been better to have Version 1 as Part 1, Version 2 as Part 2 etc rather than all intermingled but this is just my personal preference in order to alleviate the memory issues.

As I was reading I was constantly wondering which Version is the real Version; or as a reader do we make up our mind as to which Version we would have preferred to be the true Version. If that’s the case, I think Version 2 would be my preferred.

Despite my issues with the format and structure of this novel it’s incredibly well written with a clever plot. I did feel slightly bereft although relieved when I finished it.

It does just end but I felt that it was all wrapped up rather nicely.

“This is how it ends…
It also ends here…
It ends here too…”

It’s definitely worth the read if you can handle the 3 way plot.

You can listen to Laura Barnett discussing The Versions of Us on Radio 4’s Open Book programme here.

Many thanks to the publishers W&N for approving me for an ARC via Netgalley.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Connect with the author Laura Barnett

Website | Twitter

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