The Versions of Us – by Laura Barnett

30 07 2016

The front cover cites Elle Magazine as saying this is “One Day meets Sliding Doors” and I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Eva is a student at Cambridge University in 1958 and is cycling to a lecture but swerves to avoid a dog while Jim looks on.

  • Version 1 – as she swerves she goes over a nail and gets a puncture and Jim comes to her aid
  • Version 2 – the dog changed direction and so she just stopped to gather herself, then continued after Jim asked if she was ok
  • Version 3 – as she swerves she loses balance and falls off, again Jim comes over to help

And from these, we have three parallel stories that we pop in on at varying points over the next 56 years.

The beginning is hard to get into until each of the three threads have become a little more distinct and easy to separate out, but once you get to that point it really is a good read. We see marriages to different people, relationships with different characters, some who pop up in more than one version, and some who are only in one. We don’t always pop in at the same point, but occasionally all three come together to one event, but you read it happening in different ways with different people and allegiances, eg a brother’s birthday, a parent’s funeral (not a spoiler, we’re spanning half a century here!).

I know of one person who read this book in a different order – reading all of version 1 first, then all of version 2, then all of version 3. I’d love to do this if I didn’t have so much else to read as I’d really be interested to see how each thread flows on its own!

It’s quite interesting to cover than length of time in a book as well, the throwaway comments about fashions and hairstyles, as well as the first time facebook gets a mention right at the end almost feeling too new-fangled!

After a tricky start I really liked this. The first half took me about 3 weeks, the second half was less than a week I reckon! I often find that’s the way with books, but with this one more so.

the versions of us


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