The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

My thanks to Netgalley and W&N publishers for the review copy. Due to be published on 28th May 2015.

What the book is about:

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 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. 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 go through the vagaries of life.

My thoughts:

This was an amazing, beautifully written love story. Or rather, it was three amazing love stories. I love the premise of ‘what if’ in a book or film. What if one small choice you make leads to a whole different path? What if you don’t meet that person, what if you catch an earlier train, what if you choose to walk a different way to work? All the choices we make every day, big or small, impact on what will happen in our lives. Jim and Eva were beautifully described characters (although I did get rather annoyed with Jim in one of the versions!) and it would seem they are destined to be together – or are they? The three versions of Jim and Eva’s life don’t always proceed as you would expect but their paths keep crossing to different extents. The same characters have connections throughout the versions and you find their stories overlap, though with subtle and not so subtle twists. Always at the centre is Jim and Eva’s attraction and love for each other. Take time to read a fair bit of this book when you first begin so you can establish the different versions in your mind. I didn’t find it confusing at all but then, I found it hard to put down. It is such a cleverly plotted book – I can’t imagine what the author’s planning notes must have looked like! Be warned that your emotions will be all over the place with this book! The ending was particularly emotional – all three versions of the ending!

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