The Versions Of Us
My thanks to the publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson for the complimentary copy of this book
Eva and Jim are students at Cambridge in the 1950's - a minor bicycle mishap causes them to collide one afternoon, and from there romance ensues, OR DOES IT?
In essence The Versions Of Us is a love story with a Quantum element - the reader is shown all different possibilities occurring at once, in one Version, they meet and marry, in another meet and split up shortly after and in the third option they never meet at all. But which story has the best outcome for the couple? Which version is best, which version do you the Reader love the most?
I loved this book I really did. I loved both lead characters so much. Jim, the would-be creative stifled by family pressure to study Law and have a proper occupation, struck a chord and literally made my heart ache and continuously so; both in the versions he succeeds and in the ones were he makes a mess of his life. The observations around Jim's character in all possible outcomes are perfectly drawn. And in Eva's too. In one life the successful writer, in another, the barely visible wife of a Hollywood star, forced to devote herself to domesticity.
The versions themselves are distinct enough to genuinely BE different. For example, in every Version Jim and Eva have different children. I inhabited all three worlds with the same level of intensity. I was deeply wrapped up in it, and devoted to the idea, that sometimes some people are just made for one another come what may, and the stars which drove them apart will eventually pull them back together.
I have seen this novel compared to 'One Day' a book I didn't much care for, and so I feel like it's almost an insult! This book knocks spots off One Day, it's so much better, so much cleverer, so much more thoughtful and so much more real and believable. Eva and Jim won a place in my heart and the book is definitely one which I will re-read and buy as a gift for others. I want to read it again and read all versions individually just so that I can experience each as a solo story.
I recommend this particularly if you enjoy a love story that is above chick lit fare, or appreciate a love story done in a new way. I also think that those who loved Kate Atkinson's 'Life After Life' will love this.
A stunning debut by Laura Barnett, I can't wait to see what she does next 10/10