Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F
gavluvsga
50bookchallenge

  • Location:
  • Mood:
  • Music:

Book #8: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett



Number of pages: 401

Laura Barnett's novel opens in 1958 with a chance meeting between the two main characters, Jim - an arts student - and Eva - an aspiring writer.

However, the story takes a Sliding Doors-type twist and shows three different parallel universe versions of what happens next.

So, in Version 1, Jim and Eva get married and appear to be living happily ever after.

In Version 2, they miss each other and continue with their lives; Eva marries a character called David and Jim eventually marries Helena, although they do end up randomly meeting each other.

In Version 3, they do meet but Eva ruins things by not showing up at a date, and they both marry the same people as in Version 2.

I liked the way that the book switched between the three different versions of reality to show how their lives panned out throughout the 20th century, and up to 2014, at times showing alternative versions of the same event. I had to get used to the narrative style, which was mostly in the present tense except when something was in flashback, when it switched to the past tense. I often get annoyed when a serious book for adults is written in the present tense, but I managed okay with this. Jim and Eva were characters that I cared about a lot, even when they made very stupid mistakes, and I wondered which, if any, of the three storylines would lead to a happy ending.

I also enjoyed how the book traced their careers and how they achieved their dreams related to painting and writing, and reading about the different children they had in different versions of the story.

As it happens...

[Spoiler (click to open)]

They all do.

My instinct was that in Version 1, things were going too smoothly, and that they would split up and things would not end well. My suspicions seemed right when they mentioned Jim having a one-night stand, and later on Eva doing the same thing, and later finding that Jim had an affair, leading to an ugly divorce.

In Version 2, both characters split from their partners and end up in second marriages, so it did seem unlikely that they would get together, especially as in this one they were least familiar with each other.

In Version 3 they split up from their partners, but end up with each other towards the end, so it felt like the most optimistic.

In the end, both versions lead to them together at a funeral, with Eva forgiving Jim in Version 1, and Jim agreeing to go off with Eva in Version 2, while in Version 3 they are already happily together. The three different parallel versions dovetail together into the finale that tells of them approaching the end of their lives.



This was a book that I'd meant to read for ages, and I was glad I did.

Next book: Secret Water (Arthur Ransome)
Tags: book review, british, contemporary, drama, fiction, grief, love, period fiction (20th century), romance
Subscribe

  • January 2021 - Books 1 to 6

    1. The Long Way Home by Louise Penny Inspector Gamache is now retired in Three Pines when he’s recruited to help one of his friends find her…

  • December 2020 - Books 71 to 76

    71. Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park A young mixed-race girl moves with her widowed father to a fledgling South Dakota town in 1880. This is the…

  • Book 12

    Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger My rating: 5 of 5 stars Wow, did I love this one. A girl and her ghost dog, Kirby? Yes please. Let me start…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 0 comments