Book review – The Versions of Us

What if……?

How often have you asked yourself that, at different stages in your life?

The Versions of Us

The Versions of Us, by Laura Barnett, examines three very different outcomes from a single pivotal point in time. Two young Cambridge students cross paths in 1958. Or do they?

Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

We follow three different versions of their future – together and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

So far, so very Sliding Doors meets One Day.

Sliding Doors (1998) Poster



Yes, this novel is in that genre….a little bit chick-lit, a little bit rom-com. And The Versions of Us is surely destined to hit the big screen. Hopefully without Hugh Grant though….

But it’s also so much more. The writing is sensitive, beautifully descriptive and the characters are much more deeply drawn than I had feared at the outset of their journeys.

Each chapter is a Version of Us told at a similar stage in its evolution, before moving on to the next period. And within each Version, the writer often starts at an incident or time that requires retrospective explanation.

That sometimes makes it difficult to remember which Version you’re immersed in, but that’s part of the narrative fun. And possibly also the writer’s way of saying that life is complicated.

As evidenced by the long lives and very different outcomes of the Three Versions of Eva and Jim, all starting on that fateful day in 1958.

Now think back to a pivotal incident, or moment, in your own life when something you did, or didn’t, do could have made the world of difference.

What if……?




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