Bookshop Reviews

The Version of Us

By Laura Barnett

Recommended by: Dulwich Books + 1 others

Bookshop name Dulwich Books
 
Website www.dulwichbooks.co.uk
 
Their  
recommendation The Versions of Us follows the three different courses the life of Eva and Jim after they first meet in Cambridge in 1958. We follow the path their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them. The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we go through the vagaries of life. Barnett slowly develops the narrative and the characters as the story moves through the years. With beautiful prose used to describe scenes, people meeting and encounters this is a joy to read. This is a novel where the depth and intensity of the characters are slowly built as you the reader get to know everyone. It is a novel that makes you think about the decisions made along the way, solace is there with it saying that regret is not all cracked up to be what it is, the missed opportunity may not have turned out better. The novel asks do we make our own lives, does how we live our lives make us who we are or are we who we are and live that way. Heavy stuff! Jim, the painter or would be painter paints a triptych which compliments the three strands of the book and there are real gems of writing throughout the book, in particular on page 253 when Eva is questioning herself about what it’s like to be a mother, how should one behave. With local scenes to us featuring such as Gypsy Hill, Dulwich this is a book where our customers might recognise places mentioned. An immensely accomplished debut novel with writing that is a joy to read and this is a novel that will appeal to anyone who enjoys reading novels that leave you with plenty to savour and think after you have finished it. If you loved books by Kate Atkinson, David Nicholls, or Audrey Niffenegger then this is the book for you.
Bookshop name mostly books
 
Website www.mostly-books.co.uk
 
Their  
recommendation Laura Barnett’s ‘The Versions of Us’ presents us with three people, and three different scenarios. Creative yet sensible Eva either meets troubled, artistic Jim – or doesn’t. Or possibly they meet, but Eva is already involved with rising actor, David. Three scenarios. Three strands. Three versions of life. Each version plays out, keeping everyone guessing as to which will leave our protagonists leading happy and fulfilled lives. Or will any of them? It's anything but a straightforward study of relationships as the book follows Eva, Jim and David from their first meeting at Cambridge, throughout their lives, forever in a dance whether they are aware of each other or not. The subtlety of how the characters change, yet remain true, is one of the many skills of the author. No matter which of their alternative lives they are living, it’s a playful book, but also a thought-provoking one. It’s been compared with David Nicholls’ ‘One Day,’ asking questions such as: How much does marrying the right person first time around affect everything else in our lives? And if a quirk of fate means we miss that chance – if the connection is strong enough, will we get that chance again?