Book Review: The Versions of Us

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

Laura Barnett’s The Versions of Us is the story of Eva and Jim, spanning almost six decades from the moment they meet (or don’t meet) in 1958. The story follows three alternate paths through their lives, stemming from the moment Eva encounters a dog while riding her bicycle along the backs of Cambridge.

The chapters are presented in repeating groups of three throughout the work, each being a different version of the same moment in time. In summary, version one sees Eva and Jim meet and fall in love while studying at Cambridge in the 1950s. Version two is another reality in which they narrowly miss each other. Version three is similar to the first, except in this life things quickly go wrong.

I found the different threads confusing at first, and a quick Google search confirmed I wasn’t alone. Opinions are divided over how best to read this book. Some suggest skipping through and reading the three versions linearly instead of in parallel, but I’m not sure that’s what the author intended. I opted to read each chapter in the sequence they appear in the novel. It was difficult initially, but two thirds into part one I got the hang of it.

The Versions of Us is an enjoyable read, thought-provoking, and sad in places. However, I didn’t always feel for the characters as much as I would have liked, hence my review only gives four stars instead of five. Having said that, I do recommend the book. It’s a fascinating read that made me wonder how alternate versions of my own life might have turned out if key moments and events had unfolded differently.

View all my reviews.

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