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Estimated time to read: 4 minutes
So this book has been described as the noel version of Sliding Doors, the 1998 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow, it is also on the featured list for Richard and Judy’s book club! Now I’ve never actually seen Sliding Doors (shock, a movie I haven’t seen!) so I can’t actually vouch for it, but from what I’ve been told, they are similar concepts! Romance stories aren’t normally my bag, I think said that before, my romance stories need some unique hook (see my Warm Bodies Review for what I usually like). However the concept of this really did intrigue me, alternate timelines are right up my street! I wasn’t disappointed.
Read on and find out more about The Versions of Us lovely people!
“If it hadn’t been for that rusty nail, Jim and I would never have met”
“Eva is gripped by the curious sensation that they have met before”
“How easy – how much more probable – would it have been for none of these things to happen?”
So everyone has ‘what if’s’ about their relationships, what if you never went for that drink? What if you never met? Well this book explores 3 possible outcomes. Eva is cycling along and she suddenly has to swerve to narrowly miss a dog, and depending on the version, hits a nail in the road. This is how she meets Jim. So, version one; Eva hits the nail and her bike gets a puncture, Jim helps her out. Despite already having a boyfriend, David, Eva leaves him and starts a relationship with Jim. Version two; Eva and Jim miss each other, Eva marries David, and isn’t as happy as she thinks she should be. And in version three; it kinds of all goes a bit wrong, Eva and Jim meet, over the nail, but Eva decides to do the right thing and stay with David, and marries him. There are no spoilers, this all happens very quickly in the narrative, the story starts in the 1950s, and all 3 are 19 year old students at Cambridge University.
“That this is the moment: the moment after which nothing will ever be quite the same again”
“Perhaps that’s how love always arrives…in this imperceptible slippage from acquaintance to intimacy”
What is one small decision could change the rest of your life? This is what they story deals with so fantastically. Once you wrap your head around the short chapters and different timelines, the lead characters wind in and out of each others lives, keeping you completely engrossed in the storytelling. The 3 main characters are engaging in every version, Eva is always wise, sensitive and dignified (she’s also a writer too, woohoo!), Jim is a bit of an enigma for me, I couldn’t see the draw there, he is always troubled, fairly impulsive but he is always very artistic too. David is an actor, is quite arrogant, superficial and egotistical but he is driven and successful too, with Eva often helping out in the background. It is the sheer scope if the love story, seeing it from the starts and watching it develop to its entirety, that’s the joy of the story for me. It’s just about the beauty of a relationship.
“A slow panic rises in him: he will not, must not, let her go”
“Into the thickening shadows of evening; into the dim, liminal place where one path is taken, and another missed”
I won’t tell you how the stories wrap up, I want you to enjoy the ride. This alternate universe romance story is thoughtful, humorous and touching, it will make you think about how chance and destiny have a hand in our lives. The twists and turns will keep you absorbed in the story, it is simply an outstanding debut novel by writer Laura Barnett. Barnett’s willingness to look beyond the romance, and into the actual mechanics of a real relationship is what makes her stand out. We see the entirety the relationships, not just the love-struck beginnings or the regret of mid-life unhappiness. With Eva as a main character who is an introverted and self contained woman, you can’t help but like her, you are sure to fall in love with the beautiful tale.
Let Laura Barnett explore the ‘what might have beens’ with you, have a wonderful journey with a unique story.
Happy Reading Book Geeks!
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