The Versions of Us | Laura Barnett | Review

Friday, 14 August 2015

 I received this book from Hachette Publishing New Zealand,
 in exchange for an honest review.  

"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 life.

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." - Good Reads

According to the wonderful internet, this book is 'One Day meets Sliding Doors', except rather than just two different Gwyneth Paltrow story lines, there's three...and no Gwyneth. In two versions, Eva and Jim meet when they're young, in Cambridge as the description reads, but in the third they don't meet until later. Each version follows their stories, and how their lives played out if things had been different.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I love the concept, and the idea behind it, and how it delves into 'what if' life stories - we all wonder 'what if', don't we? - and I did like the characters and the way Barnett writes. Having said that, it was all written in present tense, which I don't really enjoy at all, and it was very confusing trying to keep up with each version of the story and how it differs from the others. It seemed to get harder as the book went on, because Eva and Jim grow up, and there are children in all three versions, and I was constantly thinking 'wait...I thought this child was in the other version', and 'I thought that other guy was that kid's father...' etc etc.

I think it was because it was so difficult to keep up with (though that's probably just me - a lot of people absolutely loved this book), I didn't really engage with the characters much, and it took me 3 weeks to read it because I wasn't  invested in their lives, and I didn't really care what happened in the end.

However, overall it was a good story, and I did enjoy the ending/s. It was full of love and friendship, divorces and deaths, laughter and losses,  trying to find that happy ending with the person you (perhaps) should have been with from the beginning, and really deeply exploring the 'what if'.  It's just recently been released, and you can find it in your book stores, on Amazon, or Book Depository. If it sounds like your kind of thing, do pick it up. I suspect if I hadn't struggled with it so much, I would have enjoyed it overall a lot more. Let me know what you think if you give it a read! Also...how cute is that cover!?

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