The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
My friend recommended this book a while ago and for a long time it's been sitting on my shelf. The concept of this book really grabbed me, the idea that one decision can alter the rest of your life. I often wonder what would have happened if I'd stayed in East Sussex or gone to university at the same time as my friends.
The story (or rather, stories) centre around Eva and Jim. Who meet, or don't meet, in the 1950's. One specific incident is the pin point for the three versions of their life which are each engrossing and enthralling from the get-go. What was interesting to me was despite some events happening in one or two of the version, occasionally, one incident would occur in all three, demonstrating that despite the utter randomness of life, some things cannot be altered.
Eva is headstrong, likeable and a woman well beyond her years for the time period of this novel. Reading her trying to find the balance between home life and career is interesting and makes me thinks about the decisions I will have to take in the future.
Jim on the other hand, I was less fond of. Originally I warmed to him, but as the book continued I grew to dislike him more and more. He was selfish and had trouble keeping it in his pants. Even if this reunited him with Eva, I didn't particularly approve of the methods in which he got there.
The story covers quite a span of time and I didn't find this a problem. At the beginning of each chapter I had to double check what version we were on, especially as we drew further and further away from that initial moment. There were also lots of side characters that didn't need naming. I would have been perfectly happy with 'so and so's business partner' as opposed to another name I had to file away in my head. Keeping track of all the children was also a difficulty, especially as all their names began with similar letters.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading more of Laura Barnett's work. It is worth a read, just for it's sheer originality and the questions it gives the reader as it passes through their lifespan.
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