The Versions of Us – the debut novel from Laura Barnett – follows Eva and Jim, students at Cambridge who meet in 1958. The book follows three different versions of their future, with Eva and Jim together and apart, as we follow them towards the present day and the different paths they take in each story.
After being delighted to discover that I had won a copy of The Versions of Us in June, the same day I heard author Laura Barnett speaking about the book on the radio. Barnett described how the idea of ‘what if’ has been prevalent in her life when she had the idea for the story, as she had recently been married after meeting her husband at a party. After realising how easily they could have missed each other, this led her to thinking about the routes our lives take us on, and how a simple meeting could change the course of our lives so drastically.
The idea of ‘life taking different routes’ is absolutely the heart and soul of the book, with the question ‘what if’ constantly arising. As we follow the path each story takes us on, we are shown how a chance encounter can make a real difference. In a sense, The Versions of Us is similar in feel to the film Sliding Doors, which follow the two different paths of the protagonist Helen. It is also similar to David Nicholls’ bestseller One Day, which follows two friends every 15th July across twenty years.
The Versions of Us is a very enjoyable book, where the twists and turns in the life of Eva and Jim will keep the reader enthralled, as they are helped along by various supporting characters. All three versions of the story and the endings flow seamlessly together, as we see how Eva and Jim end up. I highly recommend The Versions of Us if you are seeking out an intriguing novel this summer.